Irv Smith – TE, Alabama
Iowa’s dynamic tight end duo T.J. Hockensen and Noah Fant both got drafted in the first round, but they aren’t the only high upside tight end’s in the draft. Alabama tight end Irv Smith joins the two as playmaking tight ends with day-one starting potential. He’s the only tight end on this list and may prove to be the inside field-stretcher Kliff Kingsbury needs.
Measuring in at 6-foot-2 and 242-pounds, Smith isn’t the most menacing player in terms of size. Nor is his athleticism eye-popping. At the combine, he recorded a 4.63 second 40-yard-dash, 32.5-inch vertical, and 110-inch broad jump — not bad, but not first round material.
Smith makes up for his absence of desirable size and athleticism with route running, run-blocking, and grit. In his lone season of play in a feature role, Smith turned heads by tallying 44 receptions (77.2% catch rate) for 707 yards (360 YAC, per Pro Football Focus) and eight touchdowns. He also finished the year with a good PFF grade of 82.3.
Smith is one of the most fluid and complete route runners at the tight end position coming into the NFL in recent memory. It doesn’t matter if the route is vertical, horizontal, deep, or short, Smith can will himself open and his top ranking 2.56 yards per route run, per PFF, show it. As a run-blocker the Alabama product is not only aware, he’s technically sound and plays hard.
Irv Smith wasn’t a top-32 pick in large part due to his measurables, athletic testing, and lack of tape at Alabama. But, his film shows a sure-handed tight end with the versatility to add another dynamic to Kliff Kingsbury’s offense out of the slot or in his natural tight end position. Although the Cardinals added Charles Clay in the offseason, the position could use more youth talent; Smith brings just that.