Is it time to give up on Devin Smith?
After the New York Jets selected wide receiver Devin Smith with the second round pick of in the 2015 NFL Draft, he hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Wide receiver Devin Smith had some high expectations heading into his rookie season with the New York Jets after being selected, but fans were left disappointed. The Ohio State standout suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 after recording a dismal nine catches, with 115 yards, and one touchdown through nine games.
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To make matters worse, Smith is likely to find himself on the PUP list for this upcoming season which would sideline him for the first six weeks of it. Smith will have to recover from a devastating injury, while trying to vastly improve his effectiveness on the field. These factors have left many Jets fans hopeless when it comes to Smith’s chances of panning out, and it is not easy to make an argument against them.
When the Jets drafted Smith in the second round, they thought that they were getting a lightning quick deep-ball threat, who could change the game with one play. He was expected to play a legitimate role within the offense at a fairly early stage in his career, and fans were very excited to see what Smith would be bringing to the table.
Over the course of this past season, we saw flashes of what Smith could be as he beat defenses deep on quite a few occasions, but it never really came together for the twenty-four-year old. Smith dropped a few golden opportunities on deep passes, and he failed to be productive in any other areas of the game.
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One thing to take note of when discussing Smith’s productivity during the 2015-2016 season is the fact that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was not the best fit for Smith’s style of play.
This is not a full on excuse for Smith, but Fitzpatrick’s lack of arm strength is clearly not perfectly suited for Smith’s big-play abilities.
If Smith gets to play with a strong-armed quarterback such as Geno Smith, he would likely have an easier time making an impact.
With all that being said, it is impossible to deny the fact that Smith needs to make major improvements in almost every area of his game.
His hands are far from steady, his route running abilities are fairly raw and he will need to learn to tame his frustrations when things aren’t going so well. Having both wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker in his corner will certainly help in this area, but there is no doubting that there is a long road of learning ahead for Smith.
As stated earlier, having to recover from such a devastating injury while trying to develop in practically every area of his game, will make this situation a major up-hill battle for Smith. A torn ACL is arguably the most devastating injury in all of sports, and Smith will need to focus on fully recovering before he can worry about anything else.
The question now becomes; can Smith put his injury issues behind him and develop into the player that general manager Mike Maccagnan envisioned him becoming when he drafted him over a year ago? Experts normally say that draft picks should be given at least three years to develop before they are judged. Are fans and analysts rushing to a conclusion on Smith when it is not quite necessary at this point in time?
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In conclusion, Smith’s window may be starting to become more narrow, but it is simply too early for all hope to be lost. All draft picks deserve a fair amount of time to develop and adjust to the nature of the NFL. Only time will tell whether Smith can become the reliable weapon that the Jets would love to see him become.