Is Jimmy Smith the next best thing in the NFL? One can only speculate. One thing that is absolutely sure is that Smith has undeniable talent. In fact, I could easily see why a team like Philadelphia or Baltimore would take a chance on his talents.
For starters, his coverage is air tight. Any NFL offense would have to take this guy seriously from day one. He's a fierce competitor, and when Smith is one-on-one with a receiver, he won't be getting the ball. It's that simple. While he seems reluctant to get involved on running downs, the same can be said about any corner. He's not going to have the most tackles on the defense, and he's really not supposed to.
He plays his position at a very high level, and he is overall fundamentally sound. Once he gets his man on an island, he leaves them there. I admire that in a cornerback.
However, as physically gifted as Smith is, there is two issues that impede his chances.
First is the two guys ahead of him. Both Amukamara are both clearly more physically and athletically talented. While both of those guys don't have the pure coverage skills that Smith does, both bring to the table a playmaking ability that isn't coachable. Both of these guys have kept their noses clean, which leads to my next point.
Smith has a questionable attitude. While at Colorado, he tested positive on a drug test, was busted for illegal possession of substances (underage alcohol) and proceded to throw his coaches and teammates under the bus when things went wrong. That's not the guy you want to be starting a franchise on.
Though it's more likely that a team on the verge of a deep playoff run will draft Smith, no team wants a guy that's a locker room cancer. No team wants to have to discipline a player only to have him undermind the respect of his entire team.
You need to know that there's a guy across from you thats willing to show up every day and perform at the highest possible level week in and week out. A guy that prefers to let his skills on the field to the talking instead of hogging the spotlight.
Is Smith willing to do this? Only time will tell. I definitely see bright things in this guy's future, but Defensive Rookie of the Year? Consider him a darkhorse.