Bob Quinn and his crew have been far quieter this offseason than we’re used to seeing. While they’ve been present at what seems like every pro day on the circuit, there isn’t much leaking out about who they are working out and who has scheduled private visits.
All the same, Tony Pauline was able to report that the Lions worked out wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith privately at some point during his pro day. The Lions don’t seem to have a serious need at receiver, so this may just be due diligence, but there are other roster considerations in play that may make this a bit more notable of a workout.
Smith measured in every drill at the Combine and did well in most of them. He bombed his short shuttle pretty hard, but judging by who Bob Quinn has brought in both in free agency and drafts, it is the 3-Cone drill he seems to value above all else, and Smith did well there. Posting good size and solid long speed, as well as one of the best combined explosiveness scores in this draft class, Smith is bigger and more explosive than TJ Jones, but not quite as quick or shifty. It’s also worth pointing out that his arms are longer than most defensive ends and offensive tackles.
2015 - 52 catches, 724 yards, 4 TDs
2016 - 57 catches, 853 yards, 5 TDs
2017 - 59 catches, 1,171 yards, 13 TDs, 5 rushes, 23 yards, 1 TD
Tre’Quan Smith had a reasonably productive career at Central Florida, but what stands out the most is that while his usage didn’t increase significantly in each of his seasons, his production improved significantly in each. With only a few extra receptions each season, he posted huge jumps in efficiency that culminated in a 2017 campaign where he was averaging nearly 20 yards per catch and a touchdown on every fifth catch.
I haven’t personally watched much of Smith, but our friends over at the Falcoholics have done the legwork and this is what they had to say about his strengths and weaknesses:
“Smith is a versatile receiving option that should be able to come in and contribute as a WR3 for an NFL team from Day 1. His ability as a deep threat will be his calling card early on, but his insanely long arms and solid size give him considerable potential as a red zone threat. Smith has shown that he can be physical as a blocker and after the catch—if he can improve his drop issues and use that physicality more prominently in the short passing game, he can become a very well-rounded option with a WR2 ceiling.”
Smith was projected to go late Day 2 or early Day 3, and he’s done a fair job navigating the draft process, so it’s probably a fair projection for him. Falcoholic also projected him to go in that range, and I would expect that if the Lions decided they wanted to secure his services, they would need to do so with their third-round pick as he’d likely be gone before they’re on the clock again.
The Lions currently sit about four deep at receiver with their entire corps returning in 2018. Spending draft capital on a receiver may seem like a luxury with how deep the team currently is, but a closer look shows how shaky that depth is long term. Golden Tate is in the final year of his deal, and looking at how the wide receiver market has shaped out it will be difficult to secure his services beyond 2018. TJ Jones, likewise, is only under his tender for 2018 before being an unrestricted free agent along with Tate. That leaves Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay in for the long haul, with only undrafted free agents like Jace Billingsley and Dontez Ford vying for that third spot in 2019. It may not leave the best taste in fans’ mouths, but picking up a receiver to keep the team’s depth from falling apart after this year is a solid plan, if one that had better have other moves attached to it.