NFL Detroit Lions: What Ever Happened to Kevin Smith?

Jeff CallinContributor IIAugust 22, 2011

Does anyone actually still remember Kevin Smith? I was trying to think of some late-round sleepers/value picks for my upcoming fantasy draft and randomly thought of him from some good seasons a couple of years ago, so I thought I'd look him up.

In case you've all forgotten, Kevin Smith played college football at UCF and was drafted in the 3rd round by the Detroit Lions in 2008.

In the 2008 season, Kevin Smith finished with over 1,200 total yards and 8 touchdowns. Keeping in mind that this was a Detroit Lions team that went 0-16, that's a pretty good season for a rookie running back. 976 rushing yards isn't all that exciting, but, overall, is a pretty good year on a horrendous football team.

Smith came back the next year and was having a pretty good season with 750 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards for 1,150 total yards in just 13 games, reasonably on pace for almost 1,000 rushing yards and 1,500 total yards.

But that's when it all started to go downhill. Smith went down with a knee injury and was expected to be out for the entire offseason and probably the beginning of the next season. So, what do the Lions do? They go out and draft Jahvid Best in the 2010 NFL draft, and Smith returns in a very limited role at the end of the 2010 season with just 34 attempts in 6 games.

Where is Smith now? According to his Wikipedia page, the Lions chose not to offer him a contract and he's now a free agent. But why? Best hasn't exactly been a stellar investment with about 1,000 total yards and 6 TDs in his rookie season. Not bad numbers until you look at his season and see that 300 yards and 5 TDs came in the first 3 weeks, leaving him with 700 yards and 1 TD in the remaining 13 games (although he did sit out one game because of injury). Not exactly a stellar season.

So what gives? What's the deal with Kevin Smith? I've seen some reports that he's been having a hard time coming back from knee surgery, but he's only 24 years old (25 in December) and still has some good years ahead of him. He showed real promise before his injury, and I feel like he could really help a couple of NFL teams.

Even if Detroit won't take him back (even after LeShoure went down for the season and Best is massively over-rated), here is a list of some teams I think could use him:

1. Cardinals - Rookie Ryan Williams is out for the season and Beanie Wells has proven that he can't handle the starter's role in his 3 years in the league. 

2. Titans - If they can't come to terms with Chris Johnson for the start of the season, Smith has to be a better option than Javon Ringer (who?).

3. Bucs - LeGarrette Blount has no competition for his starting RB job, and he's not exactly a proven starter. Why not bring in Smith, if only as a change-of-pace back and some minor competition?

4. Colts - Let's just add another injury-prone RB to this roster. Who knows, maybe one of them will be able to stay healthy.

Personally, I think that at the age of 24 he should be able to bounce back from his injuries and be a starter again in the NFL.

What do you think? Does Kevin Smith have any value left in the NFL? Is he worth the risk for any team?