Ito Smith Draft Profile
Ito Smith Draft Profile
- Runs with little wasted motion
- Has one-cut ability
- Above average vision
- Stronger in lower body than expected for a small back
- Elite pass catching option out of backfield
- Averaged 10.5 yards per catch over the last three years
- Natural, soft hands
- Solid in the return game
- Runs mostly angle routes and flats, but usually gets good separation out of his breaks
Analysis: Ito Smith is an undersized running back who was used as a workhorse-type back at Southern Miss. He won’t be able to be used in that capacity in the NFL, but he offers a team versatility and an elite weapon out of the backfield in the receiving game. Smith has soft hands and has caught 132 passes the last three seasons with the Golden Eagles, averaging more than ten yards per catch. His lower half is strong and powerful, something that isn’t present when you look at Ito, but put on his tape and watch him run through arm tackles as he keeps his legs churning at all times. Smith led the team in rushing for the first of three straight seasons in 2015, covering 1,128 yards and scoring 10 times on 171 carries while becoming a major part of the passing game (49 catches, 515 yards, three touchdowns) and returning kicks (11 returns for 233 yards). He started all 13 games as a junior, toting the ball 265 times for 1,459 yards and 17 touchdowns while catching 43 passes for 459 yards and two scores. Conference USA coaches voted him first-team all-conference in 2017 after he started all 13 games, carrying the ball 248 times for 1,415 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He snared 40 receptions for 396 yards and two scores, as well.
- Burst gear is below average
- His runs feature too much thinking and not enough reacting
- Doesn’t often fall forward through contact
- Footwork is overly deliberate when gearing down and cutting
Analysis: Ito Smith’s biggest weakness is something he cannot correct: size. He will be limited in the NFL due to his lack of size and will drop down teams draft boards because of that–nothing to do with his skill as a football player. His burst through the line is not elite and lacks the explosiveness you would expect from a guy his size. On tape, you can tell Smith is thinking about his running lanes and cutback opportunities rather than just reacting to them when they are there. His lack of strength shows up when he is hit, he tends to fall backwards rather than fighting for those extra yards.
Final Thoughts on Ito Smith: Ito Smith is one of my favorite backs of this year’s deep class. He will be a Day 3 pick, but we have a Day 2 grade on him. Not many people thought much of Tarik Cohen coming out of NC A&T last year (not MFST, we had him as a Top 5 back in 2017) and Smith will have a similar impact given the opportunity in 2018. Underrated back who WILL fill a solid role on any ball club.
Size: 5’9 195lbs
Draft Grade: 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Tarik Cohen
Draft Projection: Round 5-6