Should You Care That DeVonta Smith Weighs Less Than You?
11:23 AM EDT on March 23, 2021
The short answer is no. The long answer is also no, but it’s a slightly more complicated no.
In a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Alabama pro day, reporters asked WR DeVonta Smith four questions about his weight before he finally said that he weighs 170 pounds. Enjoy this productive exchange:
Reporter: How much are you weighing and how much will you have to adapt your game to the NFL?
Smith: “I feel like it’s not going to be no different than college. I played against some of the best in college. I played in the SEC. I feel like that’s the toughest conference there is. I know a lot of people that’s bigger than me and have more problems than me. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Reporter: What are you weighing?
Smith: “The same thing I’ve been weighing.”
[Brief interlude for some non-weight questions]
Reporter: What do you want to get accomplished at pro day? And what is your weight exactly?
Smith: “I won’t be doing anything at pro day but just weighing in and letting everybody get my weight.
Reporter: What’s the weight?
Smith will weigh in officially today, so scouts can verify all 170 pounds live and in person. He declined to be weighed at the Senior Bowl in January, which first set off this no-alarm fire. Smith’s evasiveness on the topic of his weight shows that he knows—or his agent knows—that whether or not his BMI matters to his play, it can and will be used against him by an overthinking general manager.
Because despite Smith’s 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, his Heisman win, and his consensus status as the best route-runner in a loaded receiver draft, there are some NFL people who do care, meaning that all other NFL people have to care a little bit, even if they know deep down it’s a classic case of analysis paralysis to worry about the exact density of an elite player.
This is Smith. He has always looked like this. Just like we knew Kyler Murray was not six feet tall, we have known that Smith is not 200 pounds. Murray has not been doinking throw after throw into the backs of the heads of his taller offensive linemen, and Smith is not going to crumble into a pile of fine dust with his first NFL tackle.
Smith entered as a 165-pound freshman in 2017 and was listed at 175 this past season. He’s only 22 years old and could easily put on another 10 pounds in the next few years. Not everyone can look like D.K. Metcalf, and even Metcalf was over-analyzed into oblivion as a draft prospect because of his size. Some NFL people actually worried Metcalf was too muscular, too stiff to be flexible and smooth and quick.
When I asked scouts if anyone gives a crap that Smith is so light, most said no or not really, but then pointed out how light or skinny Smith is in their next sentence. For example, one scout whose team will pick in the latter half of the first round added, “We're doing our homework in case people care enough for him to fall in the draft.” Knowing what he knows about the league’s tendency to overemphasize anything measurable and question body types outside the standard position parameters, that scout expects that at least some of his peers will care that Smith is, as he put it, “disgustingly skinny.”
“I would be scared to death to take him top 10,” another scout with another team said, seemingly proving his peer correct. “Just not many guys with that build that make it.” (Obvious but necessary disclaimer: We're now a month out from the draft, that special time of year when the disinformation campaigns shift into high gear. This could be genuine concern, or it could be a strategic attempt to scare other teams out of drafting Smith.)
Several other scouts I checked in with agreed that Smith is notably slim, but said they aren’t concerned anymore because, as one of them noted, Smith’s 2020 was one of the most dominant seasons he’s seen from a receiver in a long, long time.
Smith has had some injuries in his football career: a broken collarbone in high school, a hamstring strain in 2018, a bruised left shoulder in 2019, and a dislocated finger this past season, which can raise durability concerns. But Smith didn’t miss a game after his freshman year, and according to one NFL scout’s numbers, he saw the field on 81 percent of Alabama’s offensive snaps, putting him in the upper echelon of receivers.
There is plenty of precedent for a slight receiver to have a successful NFL career. Smith draws comparisons to Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, who measured at 6 feet and 181 pounds at the 1996 scouting combine. Another Hall of Famer, Isaac Bruce, measured at 5-foot-11 1/2 and 173 pounds at the 1994 combine.
Ex-NFL receiver Chad Johnson sent seven passionate tweets defending Smith’s stature on Monday. The 6-foot-1 Johnson tweeted that he played at 180 pounds during his NFL career, though he weighed in at the 2001 combine at 192.
Smith’s 2020 tape was so good that he won’t be participating in position drills at Alabama’s pro day. There’s no need to. His frame should similarly be an afterthought; if scouts are telling me that they don’t care, but other scouts might, maybe nobody actually does. Maybe the league, with lots of time to overthink and overanalyze, is once again placing too much weight on a non-issue.