The Lions traded up to the first pick of the third-round to select Central Florida running back Kevin Smith. Detroit had a pressing need at the running back position for added depth, and Smith certainly helps alleviate that issue. In fact, many, myself included, believe that Smith has the potential to become a starter in the NFL. Considering that the Lions' depth chart at RB isn't exactly that great, he could be starting in 2008.
Smith is best known for threatening Barry Sander's single-season college rushing record. He came very close to breaking that record last season, and even though he fell short, his season was truly remarkable as he rushed for over 2500 yards and scored 30 total touchdowns.
To get an idea of what kind of player Smith is, look below for his scouting report.
Strengths: Patient and makes the most of his blockers. Has above-average lower body strength, instinctively turns pads when trying to squeeze through tight spaces and can pick up tough yards in short-yardage situations. Keeps eyes downfield, has adequate lateral mobility, can cut back when sees defense over pursuing and can bounce runs outside when defense collapses inside. Doesn't have great elusiveness but shifty and can make the first defender miss. Plays with a mean streak, has good upper body strength and flashes a powerful stiff arm. Runs with excellent balance, bounces off arm tackles and is tough to bring down in the open field. Is a long-strider and possesses deceiving top-end speed. Shows good awareness, does a good job of stepping up and flashes the ability to anchor when asked to help out in pass protection. Attacks the thighs of blitzing linebackers and is an effective cut blocker. Shows good focus as a receiver out of the backfield and shouldn't drop many passes that should catch.
Weaknesses: Takes too long to reach top-end speed and is going to have a harder time turning the corner at the NFL level. Lacks elite top-end speed and isn't going to outrun NFL defenses when gets a seam. Tries to make too much happen at times and dances in the backfield rather than getting what he can when there's no seam. Runs too high and is going to take some big hits. Doesn't run crisp routes, doesn't explode out of cuts and is going to have a hard time separating from man coverage. While extremely productive, played in the Conference USA and there is some concern about ability to make the jump to the NFL. Missed two games with a shoulder injury in 2006 and durability is somewhat of a concern. Missed a 2006 game because of disciplinary reasons and character may be a concern.
POSITIVES: Instinctive, hard-running ball-carrier with the ability to create yardage. Runs with outstanding vision, finds the cut-back lanes, and loses little momentum when he must change direction. Weaves his way through the inside finding the openings on the field, makes defenders miss, and quickly gets through the cut-back lanes. Runs with balance and body control. Keeps his feet moving up the field and breaks arm tackles. Uses blocks everywhere on the field and will pick his spots. Squeezes through the small creases of the defense. Very quick in all aspects of his game.
NEGATIVES: Not a natural pass-catcher. Does not display the speed to beat defenders around the corner or in the open field. Not a smooth or fluid ball-carrier.
Good size...A very good athlete...Plays faster than he times..A natural runner with excellent vision and instincts..Strong, tough and powerful...Runs hard and doesn't go down easily...Great feet...Terrific balance and agility...Soft hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield...An adequate blocker..Was extraordinarily productive.
Doesn't have great speed and lacks a burst...May have trouble turning the corner in the pros...Isn't a big play threat...Runs too tall...Has a lot of mileage on his tires and durability might be an issue...May have some minor character concerns...Has a thin frame and may need to bulk up..Didn't always play against top competition.
SI Film Room:
Kevin Smith's 41 carries against UAB:
- Smith's pro-day workout
- Interview with Smith on College Football Live
- Smith against Tulsa
- Three long runs by Smith
Going into the 2008 season, I have big hopes for Smith. Although he was only a third-round pick, I expect him to get a lot of playing time, and then if things don't work out with Tatum Bell, he could easily become the starter.
One final thing to add is that Smith has his own website that will probably be updated soon with info on his time so far with the Lions, so make sure to check that out.