When it comes to the NY Jets and their second-round draft pick Devin Smith, everyone needs to be patient with his development.
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that fans and analysts of the Jets started to label Smith a “bust” since he was dropping easy passes like there was no tomorrow. Smith had a ton of expectations when he made the transition from the college scene to the pros this year but unfortunately, didn’t live up to them upon his NFL season debut.
Smith was hit with injuries early on during training camp that hindered his speed, route-running and overall progression as a wide receiver. Once he was healthy enough, Smith saw some playing time but cost the Jets much grief due to mistakes he made on special teams and again, constantly dropping picture-perfect passes that could have resulted in a few different outcomes in the close games the Jets had this season.
These are usually the growing pains whenever rookies get their feet wet in the NFL. It’s nothing out of the norm as I personally believe all new players tend to get the benefit of the doubt until they get a few years of NFL experience under their belts.
I’ve always kept a time frame of 2-3 years before a rookie can reach their true potential. That’s why despite the big fumble, dropped passes and miscommunication with assignments this season, it just proves that he still needs a bit more time to develop the right way.
With guys like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker serving as mentors for his development, Smith will only get better over time and use his latest game against the Miami Dolphins as a huge boost of confidence for the rest of the season and his future. Against the Dolphins, Smith totaled 33 receiving yards and caught the first touchdown of his NFL career. Not really eye-opening stats but it’s a sign of good things to come.
Even Marshall was pretty proud of what he did on Sunday, here is what he had to say about words of encouragement he gave to to Smith throughout the ups and downs of his rookie season, courtesy of the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
We’re all interconnected. We’re in it together. We’re only as good as our weakest link. He’s been down and it just hasn’t happened for him. I just know how good he can be. We saw that in camp. You guys saw it in camp, you were there every day. Him making the play he got hurt on was a spectacular play. And if he can do that, he’s going to take my job soon.