Doesn't generate a ton of separation for himself and at times will struggle to quickly get his head around and adjust to the football. Likes to extend his arms to pluck the play, but possesses only average hands. Does a nice job selling his run fakes as well. Quickly is able to get into defensive ends off the line, extend his long arms, generate a pop and then cleanly slip and get out into the flat. Surprisingly has a little nimbleness to his game, but isn't a huge threat after the catch.
Is an impressive in-line blocker who can fire out of his stance low, keep his pad level down and extend his arms into contact. Does a nice job creating a jolt at the point, can stick to blocks through the play, and is coordinated enough to get his feet around and seal on the edge. Consistently is able to handle defensive ends at the point of attack and routinely is able to generate a push off the football.
Has some nastiness to his game as well, likes to finish blocks and refuses to let defenders get to the ball carrier on second effort, works his legs and hands through the play. Can be heavy handed and stick, and is tough to disengage from because of his length and good hand placement.
Impression: Isn't real athletic, but has the size and power to be a guy who plays in the league for ten years as a number two/three tight end option. However, is coordinated and flexible enough to get some looks as a potential offensive tackle as well. I like his upside there a bit more."
After redshirting his first year at Marshall, he played special teams and backed up Cody Slate at tight end as a redshirt freshman, finishing the year with two catches for nine yards. He started seven games as a sophomore and finished the season with twelve receptions for 89 yards, then took over the starting role permanently the following season after Slate suffered a season-ending injury and caught 23 passes for 335 yards.
Smith's most productive season came as a senior, posting career highs with 38 receptions and 358 receiving yards, as well as scoring the first three touchdowns of his career.
Smith is an effective in-line blocker (with potential to be better) and owns soft hands as a receiver, but his limited athleticism will prevent him from being a big-play threat. Teams needing a reserve blocking tight end with an ability to simply move the chains will value him in the late rounds of the draft.
Strengths: Has very soft hands and catches the ball away from his body. Throttles down and gets his head around quickly on comeback routes. Uses his body well to create separation. Gets upfield quickly after the catch, shows some wiggle after the catch. Lowers his shoulder and fight for extra yards, and can make the first tackler miss. Tough to bring to the ground. Uses rip moves well to beat the jam at the line. Also lines up as a wide receiver. Keeps a wide base as a blocker and owns a strong upper body, providing a good initial pop into the defender and driving his legs to sustain. Will locate and block additional defenders downfield, using correct angles. Blocks hard until the whistle blows.
Weaknesses: Very slow release off the line. Not a natural route-runner and shows no ability to create separation. Lacks speed and acceleration. Regularly rounds off his routes. Does not break down well and has a very tough time blocking in space. Shows terrible form cut blocking. Leaves the inside lane vulnerable when on the line and can give up penetration. Does not always get his hands inside and has a tendency to grab outside the defender's shoulder pads."
Positive: Large, powerful blocking tight end with NFL ability. Bends his knees, quickly gets his hands up and blocks with terrific fundamentals. Strong, easily turns defenders from the play and handles opposing defensive lineman. Blocks with a nasty attitude and always works to finish the play. Sturdy pass catcher that makes the difficult reception in a crowd. Nicely adjusts to the errant throw and possesses adequate hands.
Negative: Large lumbering tight end who lacks a quick release off the line and possesses minimal speed.
Analysis: Smith heads towards the draft at the top blocking tight end in the entire process. He's an adequate pass catcher though not effective more than a few yards off the line of scrimmage. He will be drafted solely as a number two tight end brought onto the field for his blocking skills. Smith may also get consideration as a developmental offensive tackle."
Negatives: Not real fast... Simply a short range target... Struggles to create separation... Lacks elusiveness in open field... Won't show anything at the combine... Only one year of starting experience ... Will turn 24 during his rookie season... Kicked off Tennessee team for DUI in 2006, minor character concerns?"
Strengths: Great size, the kind of versatility NFL teams love in a tight end. Solid hands. Earned more playing time each progressive year. Split time with Cody Slate, so productivity may be inaccurate.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have good speed. Won't make all the catches, especially in traffic. Good but not great blocker. Redshirt Senior means he's a little older than NFL teams like.
Projection: High projection in the 6th round right now. Combines are going to be brutal for him. CDS has him ranked as the 9th best TE in the draft for 2011."
By this point he was already a fine blocker, but Marshall finally looked to their big 6-6, 267 pound tight end and he responded by catching 23 passes for 335 yards. Despite his size, Smith headed into his senior season without catching a touchdown pass. That streak finally ended. Even though quarterback Brian Anderson pretty much ignored his tight end early in the season, through 11 games Smith is second on the team with 37 receptions for 343 yards. He has also caught three touchdown passes.
There are better pass catching tight ends in this class and there are better blockers in this class too. However, few do both as effectively as Smith. Coming out of a program that has had successful tight ends, Smith should be a good value for some team in the fourth or fifth round."
Lee Smith is a NASTY Blocker: He's a natural Croucher who exhibits excellent Power to Drive the Run Game + Strength to Anchor against the Pass Rush.
As a Receiver, he's a bit brutal, but is clever enough to Work the Field.
In a Game where those who can Block with Ferocity and Precision ~ as Lee Smith clearly can ~ and still provide enough of a Pass Catching possibility ~ I won't say "Threat" ~ to keep D's honest, Lee Smith has a tremendous chance to get absolutely no appreciation...while proving to be utterly vital to his team's efforts to Move The Chains in the years to come.
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