College – University of South Carolina
Height – 5’10”
Weight – 186 lbs
You ever had a bourbon that just tastes so delicious but appearance wise leaves something to be desired? I’m thinking something like Barrell’s Armida. The bourbon is distilled and aged in new charred white oak barrels but is finished separately in 3 different casks: Pear Brandy, Rum, and Sicilian Amaro. That coupled with it’s smaller bottle just screams underwhelming and too much. When you drink it however, it is a mixture of everything you love about bourbon, smells like carrot cake, honey, spices, fruits and tastes even better. Shi Smith, when unpackaged correctly can show you that he has the skillset to be as prestigious as Barrell’s Armida.
Shi Smith was a 4 star recruit and the #10 athlete in the 2017 class. As a junior in high school he posted a 54/1337/17 stat line and followed up with a senior year of 67/907/10. Just like Armida was featured in Maxim’s lists of best new whiskeys of 2020, Shi was listed as one of the top (#2) rated players in all of SC in 2017, among both offensive and defensive players. Smith received offers from a few powerhouse programs, 2 of which were Alabama and Clemson. He chose to stay home and take his on field talents to the Gamecocks. Shi is the type of player you look to have on a team, nose to the grindstone, and as he says, “lead by example….by making plays”. Not only is he the type of player you want on the field, High School Coach Adams at Union described him as “always having a heart to help others.”
3rd on team in yards and TD’s as a freshman (with Deebo/Edwards/Hurst)
3rd on team in yards and TD’s as a sophomore (with Deebo/Edwards)
2nd on team in yards and TD’s as a junior (with Edwards)
1st on team in yards and TD’s as a senior
57/633/4 in 9 games played
Just looking at these statistics are like judging bourbon by it’s label and saying….”meh, doesn’t sound or look good to me.” But when you dig deeper you find your new everyday bourbon. The South Carolina QB position over the last 2 years would be a challenging environment for anyone. With a 58.6% completion percentage and 6.3 yards per attempt even highly touted Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards couldn’t top 900 yards receiving.
You have to smell and taste the bourbon for yourself to decide what you like. You have preferences just like everyone else, so let’s dig deeper and review the tape on Mr. Smith?
While he displayed a few bad tendencies at the senior bowl, like running into his defender or rounding off routes, this play also shows his ability to track the ball while it’s in the air. He makes a really nice play over the defender, with one hand nonetheless.
On the very next play, he is able to get the corner to turn his hips upfield and then make a quick cut.
Below you see the same route against Tennessee and it proves that he has the speed and quickness to take it to the house in an actual game setting.
Overall, he is a solid route runner. Not excellent but solid.
You know when you take that first sip of something delicious and your jaw drops to the floor? Shi will do the same thing when he makes these crazy circus catches over double coverage, in between defenders, or one handed. Let the tape tell you the story.
What Shi lacks in route running he makes up with footwork. This dude has got some serious feet. If he can be coached up on his route running and you couple that with his agility and speed, he will be a force for nickel corners. He will not lose in one on one situations in the middle of the field. Robert Woods esque, this is quite possibly the best aspect of his game. Just like the few drops of H2O that bring out the juice of Armida. Shi Smith is worth the squeeze.
With size comparisons to: Tyler Lockett, Brandin Cooks, Dionte Johnson, Curtis Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders, and the best… Antonio Brown, his biggest knock is not a concern. With only 2 of those picks being made before the third round (Cooks and Samuel), draft capital isn’t a major factor either. So just because he isn’t a day 1 pick or have prototypical size doesn’t mean he can’t be great.
Pro Day Comparison
So after all that talking above, let’s see if his pro day helps or hurts the tape.
40 Yard Dash – 4.43 (74%)
Short Shuttle – 4.20 (59%)
3 Cone – 6.83 (71%)
While these pro day numbers do not blow your socks (Elijah Moore was 93% in all three), they show he has above average speed and agility. His pro day performance coupled with his complete domination of one on one drills at the senior bowl align with what he puts on tape.
Potential Landing Spots
Barrell has another delicious whiskey known as Seagrass. It is meant to remind you of the beach. I am a beach lover, it is my happy place. Shi Smith’s Happy place is underneath crossing routes and between the hashes. Somewhere that the slot WR is a focal point in the offense is crucial to his success.
Detroit Lions – The first team that comes to mind is the Detroit Lions. With Jared Goff leading the LA Rams, 78% of the target share went to the slot WR in 2019. That’s crazy and right now Detroit has no slot WR nor competition to boot. While the targets may be there, Goff’s adjusted completion percentage was only good for 38th. Not to mention he puts players in a position to get absolutely cremated in the middle of the field. However with new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, there will be around 100 targets to the slot as evidenced by LAC offense while he was at the helm. Goff’s tendency to throw to the slot coupled with new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, should lend to immediate production.
Forecast – 72 receptions, 649 yards, 6 TD’s (172 fp in PPR, good for WR 41)
Philadelphia Eagles – With Carson Wentz out of town, Jalen Hurts will be at the helm. The RPO, leading to potential rollouts will most likely keep the LB checked, and Jaelen Reagor stretching the field with his speed, will leave a lot of chunk plays behind the LB’s for Smith to gobble up. Greg Ward was the main slot receiver in Philly last season and I don’t see him locking down that spot. That could be enough targets to give Shi a good floor and immediate fantasy relevance.
Forecast – 48 receptions, 576 yards, 3 TD’s (123 fp in PPR, good for WR65)
New York Jets – Hear me out. The forecast doesn’t look good but a young QB’s best friend is someone close to the line of scrimmage that can get open. Jamison Crowder is currently filling this role. Shi could benefit from being in a position room with similar skill set WR like Crowder for a year. Crowder is scheduled to be an UFA after 2021 and with big alpha WRs like Denzel Mims and Corey Davis, Shi will be set to take the opportunity and volume that is needed for a slot WR to be successful.
Forecast – 35 receptions, 315 yards, 2 TD’s (78 fp in PPR, good for WR100)
In a class that has a few top tier options and a bunch of “guys” afterwards, Smith has the tools and ability to be a great option for your fantasy team in years to come. Antonio Brown didn’t produce his rookie season and then proceeded to set the world on fire. Not saying that Shi Smith is the next AB but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is like a bottle of bourbon that has been open for a few months and gets better as time goes on. A solid WR2 for years to come is in the cards for him. You should be comfortable drafting him in the front of the third round of a SF draft ahead of guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Amari Rodgers, and Kadarius Toney. Call me crazy but I’m not shi. Get it?
Forecast factors: Vacated targets, college target share, catch rate, and college yards per reception.