- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There’s never been any doubts about his deep-strike ability.
His game film and a solid showing at the NFL combine proved what organizations already knew about Devin Smith and his blazing speed.
The former Ohio State wide receiver even joked that teams were well aware of the sparkling undefeated record the Buckeyes posted when he scored a touchdown.
All of that adds up to an appealing package for scouts and general managers evaluating Smith for the upcoming draft. But determining whether he might be worth spending a first-round pick on has required showcasing the parts of his game that weren’t as regularly on display, which made his route-running and hands the most closely watched parts of Ohio State’s pro day on Friday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“From the Senior Bowl to the combine to now at pro day, I think I’ve shown the whole route tree,” Smith said after the workout. “I’ve shown I can run the whole route tree, and now for me, it’s really just about being consistent and making sure my body is healthy, making sure I’m catching the ball consistently, running the routes consistently, making sure I’m at my right depth and things like that.
“You know, there were a few coaches that did know I could run all the routes, but there were a few others who just wanted to see it. It was just a matter of me showing it.”
Smith cruised through the patterns on an otherwise light day for one of the top prospects from the reigning national champions. He skipped the 40-yard dash and elected to let his previous times stand for scouts.
His trademark speed was on display anyway as he hauled in balls from former Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, showing off crisp footwork, tracking the ball down on deep routes and making one impressive grab on a slant that was thrown high and well in front of him.
There was one pass that slipped through his hands, and if there was anything during his stint with the Buckeyes that was ever questioned it was the occasional lapse in concentration that produced a couple of drops early in his career. It wasn’t much of an issue during his productive senior season, though, and Smith typically more than made up for it with his explosiveness and a knack for delivering touchdowns from anywhere on the field during a final campaign that included 12 scores and a jaw-dropping 28 yards per reception.
“It’s just like being in a game,” Smith said. “When you make a mistake or drop a pass, let it go and come right back for the next one. Let it go, come back and do it again, catch it.
“A lot of coaches are impressed with how I catch and ball skills and things like that. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things, and I’m just trying to keep it going up.”
There’s not much left for Smith to prove now. And with one more audition for an audience that included representatives of every NFL team, he did everything he could to make sure they saw more than just a long-ball specialist.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There’s never been any doubts about his deep-strike ability.His game film and a solid showing at the NFL combine proved what organizations already knew about Devin Smith and his blazing speed.