An anonymous NFL wide receivers coach raved about Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith's intangibles Wednesday ahead of next week's 2021 NFL draft.
According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, the coach expressed concern over Smith's 170-pound frame but added: "He's tough as s--t. He will bite your face off. He's gonna try. He won't back down, but is he gonna win the battle?"
Smith is considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft, which begins April 29, along with LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle.
The diminutive Smith enjoyed a season for the ages in 2020, reeling in 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, as the Crimson Tide went undefeated and won a national championship.
Smith was also awarded the Heisman Trophy, making him the first wide receiver to net the prestigious honor since Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991.
Despite his production, there are some questions surrounding Smith in the NFL, primarily due to the fact that he lacks size.
A second NFL wide receivers coach said that while they "love" Smith and believe he can be a "legit No. 1 receiver," they are concerned by the fact that he's "so skinny."
Another wide receivers coach wondered how Smith will handle getting "pushed off" his spot while running routes in the NFL, but they also noted that, "DeVonta's faster than you think and he's quicker than you think and he can really catch."
The first wide receivers coach also praised Smith's skill set, saying he possesses "unbelievable hand-eye coordination and body control with elite ball skills."
Smith is almost certainly a first-rounder and among the top three wideouts in the draft, but it remains to be seen how early he will come off the board and whether both Chase and Waddle will be taken ahead of him.
While Smith is the most accomplished wide receiver among them at the collegiate level, Chase is much bigger and Waddle is more explosive, which are qualities that will undoubtedly appeal to NFL talent evaluators.
Among the teams picking inside the top 15 with a clear need at wide receiver are the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5), Miami Dolphins (No. 6), Detroit Lions (No. 7), New York Giants (No. 11), Philadelphia Eagles (No. 12) and New England Patriots (No. 15).
Any of those teams represent potential landing spots for Smith, who figures to enter the NFL with a chip on his shoulder based on some of the concerns positions coaches are harboring.