Wide receiver is one of the many positions that the Lions could use some additional depth but doesn’t qualify as a primary need heading into the draft. This draft figures to feature some good prospects outside of the first round. Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith qualifies as such and the Lions showed some interest by bringing him in for a visit on March 18.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Weight: 204 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 5/8 in.
Hand Size: 8 5/8 in.
40 Yard Dash: 4.43 sec
Bench Press: 19 Reps
Vertical Jump: 41.0″
Broad Jump: 126.0″
3 Cone Drill: 6.72 sec
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.13 sec
60 Yard Shuttle: 11.33 sec
Watch his combine workout here
Smith has big-play speed and enough size to develop into a starting NFL receiver who can stretch a defense. Shows great burst off the line and the top-end speed to consistently get behind the secondary but is susceptible to press coverage and is still improving his ability to make over-the-shoulder grabs and come down with jump balls. Not a refined underneath route-runner. Loses speed in transition and doesn’t have a real natural feel for finding creases in zones. Has leadership qualities, is a hard-worker, and is a physical run blocker. Smith’s speed, upside and mentality make him an early second round prospect.
The final impression in the National Football Post scouting report perfectly summarizes why the Lions could use Torrey Smith and why the price will have to be right to make it happen:
An explosive deep threat who tracks the football well and has the speed to open up the field vertically. However, isn’t a real natural catcher, looks a bit stiff and is raw as a route runner and is going to need to learn to beat press. Looks more of a vertical route runner. There is a spot for him in the league and he can be productive but looks limited in what he can offer.
The vertical threat is exactly what the Lions lack out of their current group of receivers. The Pittsburgh Steelers reap the rewards of having that threat with Mike Wallace a third round pick in the 2009 draft. The deficiencies noted in the quote above are somewhat a matter of opinion. Smith ranks as the ninth best receiver on the National Football Post draft board while he appears much higher on some other boards. A later article by Wes Bunting does include Torrey Smith in a list of players with first round talent that figure to be selected in the second round so who knows how he really feels.
The CBSsports.com NFL draft crew list him as the third best receiver. Rob Rang provides the analysis and notes that Smith lacks some polish to his game but is a threat with the ball in his hands:
After the catch: His best attribute due to his agility, straight-line speed and vision. Gliding runner who accelerates quickly and changes directions without sacrificing speed. Can make defenders miss in the open field, but doesn’t possess elite lateral agility to juke in tight quarters. Good straight-line speed to separate. A threat to score from any point on the field.
The ESPN scouting report agrees with Rang’s assessment but pegs Torrey Smith as the fifth best receiver in the draft. They rate him as average in the categories of separation skills and ball skills but exceptional in big play ability. The exceptional rated came as a result of the following:
Potential to be a big time play maker at the next level. Possesses the initial burst and second gear to rip the lid off of defenses. Displays a rare acceleration to make up ground and run underneath deep ball. Will be very hard to overthrow him. Lacks elite elusiveness to get out of traffic in and out of traffic. However, dangerous runner after the catch that flashes ability to take short throw and exploit any crease to create big run after catch. Also can win one-on-one battles with deep throws or in jump ball situations.
What do you think, a good use of a second round pick?
Mlive.com’s Tom Kowalski would be surprised if they used a second round pick on a wide receiver but acknowledges that it is a position that will be addressed one way or another. Here is a portion of an email segment he posted earlier today:
Eric: Do you feel the Lions will either sign a veteran receiver (Plaxico Burress or Steve Breaston possibly) or draft a receiver in the first three rounds of the draft?
Tom Kowalski: Another interesting question. I think this is a situation where the Lions would rather have the draft first and then free agency. I think they want to find a rookie with great speed in the draft and develop him, rather than go after another veteran free agent. If they miss out in the draft, then they know what they’ve got to do.
How high will they draft a receiver? First round would be a shock, but not impossible (if Julio Jones slides). The second round is also unlikely, but there are some serious candidates in the third round. Remember, the Lions took Derrick Williams in the third round and only expected him to return kicks in the first few years of his career. Forget the fact that it didn’t work out, Lions GM Martin Mayhew pulled the trigger in the third round that year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do it again this year. (Again, going back to the OT argument, getting as many pieces around Matthew Stafford is important.)