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2018 NFL Draft Profile: RB Ito Smith provides 3rd down value as a backfield receiving threat

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The Lions may be looking to move on from Theo Riddick in the future, and if they do it wouldn’t hurt to bring someone similar in.

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 17 New Orleans Bowl - Southern Miss v Louisiana-Lafayette Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ito Smith

RB | Southern Mississippi

Height: 5-foot-9 | Weight: 201 | Arm Length: 28 7/8” | Hand Size: 9 3/8”

Player Comparison: Theo Riddick | Projection: 6th Round

Stats

2014 (11 games): 136 Att, 536 Yds, 3.9 YPC, 2 TDs, 8 Rec, 76 Yds
2015 (14 games): 171 Att, 1,128 Yds, 6.6 YPC, 10 TDs, 49 Rec, 515 Yds, 3 TDs
2016 (13 games): 265 Att, 1,459 Yds, 5.5 YPC, 17 TDs, 43 Rec, 459 Yds, 2 TDs
2017 (13 games): 248 Att, 1,415 Yds, 5.7 YPC, 10 TDs, 40 Rec, 396 Yds, 2 TDs

Scout Hub Featured Background:

Jesse Fritsch

Given name is Romarius Smith. Mobile, Alabama native. Three-star recruit according to 247Sports. Major is unknown. Started six of 12 games played as a freshman. Started seven of 14 games as a sophomore. Started 13 games as a junior. Has two younger sisters. Accepted invitation to play in the 2018 Senior Bowl.

Positives:

Hands are very good, hauled in several difficult, off-target passes. Patient runner who follows his blockers. Smooth hips and ankles as a runner, stays low to the ground while running and maintains his balance when changing direction while losing very little momentum. A willing blocker despite his size, Smith doesn’t show any reservations about initiating contact as a blocker.

Negatives:

Uses his moves more often than he should, sometimes appears to dance more than decisively hit his hole. Foot speed is not very impressive. Very little power to his game. Though he’s willing, size, length, and strength limit his effectiveness while blocking. Short with a small frame that leaves questions for NFL projection. Vision is questionable, as is decision making. Size is a problem whenever defenders get their hands on him, unable to break away from contact often.

Outlook:

With his lack of size and athletic ability (outside of agility), I don’t see Ito Smith as someone who projects in a starter role in the NFL. I came into my second viewing with the impression that Ito Smith is very similar to Theo Riddick in running style and receiving ability, which was an entirely positive comparison. By the time I’d completed watching the game tape I’ve linked at the bottom, and went through highlights after, I think he also compares to Theo Riddick negatively as well, in that his ceiling is going to likely be limited to a receiver out of the backfield.

His patience is a strong suit, but decisiveness isn’t one and that could cause a lot of negative plays for a runner in a zone system. A team with a running rotation could add Ito Smith to provide a receiving dynamic they might lack with their other personnel. Despite limitations in that area, Smith’s willingness to mix it up in pass protection as well as his route running and hands make him an ideal third down back in a system that utilizes a heavy rotation.

Notes:

Fumble against Florida State where he was stripped. Exceptional wheel route for a long gain against LSU showcases route running ability and soft hands. Ran a route in the end zone against ULL that was vintage Theo Riddick, taking advantage of his mismatch against linebackers in coverage. Also against ULL, had an incredible TD run that showed balance and concentration to keep his feet, breaking multiple tackles in the process. Played in the Senior Bowl, but was ineffective as a runner and almost absent as a receiver (2 catches, 2 yards).

All Player links:

Game Tape:

Florida State 2017

Kentucky 2016

Louisiana Lafayette 2016

LSU 2016

Other Links:

Team-Team Page

Draft Profile-Jesse Fritsch Report