Smith will do well in the NFL

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

Sean Smith has enough charisma for his own talk show.

After the Sugar Bowl, I didn’t believe Smith would declare for the NFL. At that moment, I thought he’d do a better job replacing Jay Leno than he would shadowing NFL receivers. I told my friend, Assistant Sports Editor Chris Kamrani, that Smith wouldn’t be drafted before the third round. We even went so far as to make a bet. Something involving enough money to buy a decent lunch and some degrading jab to one’s manhood.

My reasoning was that Smith was too raw. He’s only been doing this for two years. He still has a lot to learn to play cornerback at the next level. Unbegrudgingly, I’m not too proud to admit I was wrong.

Not about the raw part, but I underestimated Smith. I guess part of me wanted him to stay another year at Utah, so I was trying to justify why I thought he’d stay.

In actuality, he’s got everything to gain by leaving. His stock won’t get higher next season. He might shave a few hundredths off his 40-yard dash, or figure out a way to rep 225 lbs. a few more times. Even if Utah returns to the Sugar Bowl, Smith is hitting his peak draft potential at the right time. He’s also in a cornerback class that has been disappointing this year. There was no roadrunner who wowed people with his speed at the combine. Smith’s 4.47 in the 40 is impressive. Given his size, he has NFL potential written all over him.

I started thinking about what had made me so blind to Smith’s potential. He’s got the athleticism. He’s got the attitude. He’s even got the skill set to convert to a free safety if corner ends up not being his bag.

If Barack Obama can be president after a term in the Senate, why can’t Smith be a lockdown corner after two years of cornerback experience at the collegiate level? Hell, if I need any reason to believe, I can just look at everyone who doubted the Utes in the Sugar Bowl. Smith could have that same shocking effect at the next level. Only now I won’t be the one doing a double take. Of all the people making themselves eligible for the draft from Utah, Smith will have the most success.

He’s got the abilities to help a team right now. I said before, he’s got a ton to learn. From what scouts and experts say, he opens up his hips well, and he’s got great ball instincts. He also has great closing speed, which he displayed in the Sugar Bowl. He is not a great open field tackler, especially given his high center of gravity, but that can either be taught or mitigated.

If for some reason his skills don’t translate into a starting cornerback position and multi-million dollar contracts down the road, he’s got the potential to be a dangerous free safety as well.

Utah has become famous for recruiting athletes and plugging them where they fit once spring ball rolls around. This spring, a Ute will be drafted into the NFL on the same premise.

I might be $10 poorer and have my manhood and Utah fanhood questioned, but Smith is going to be in the same company as Steve Smith (no relation), Jordan Gross, the Dyson brothers and Luther Ellis.

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