The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Southern Mississippi running back Ito Smith.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Senior | 5’9″ and 201 Pounds | Born September 11, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Round 6-Free Agent
Smith performed capably at the Senior Bowl, but he wasn’t invited to the combine, and it’s relatively rare for non-combine backs to be anything more than spot contributors in the NFL: He’s not likely to enter the NFL with much draft pedigree, and he’s almost certain not to be relied upon as a lead back because of his size, but he does have some potential. After starting six games as a true freshman and then playing in an uber-productive committee with the senior Jalen Richard as a sophomore, Smith was the primary back for the Golden Eagles for his two final campaigns. In his three full seasons as an every-game contributor Smith averaged 134.3 yards and 1.18 touchdowns per game over 40 contests.
What makes Smith especially intriguing is his receiving ability, as he had 140 receptions for 1,446 yards and seven touchdowns receiving for his career. In fact, since at least 2000 he is the only college player with at least 4,400 yards rushing and 1,400 yards receiving. Smith is small, but he reportedly has good athleticism (4.40-second 40). If Smith is able to carve out a role in the NFL, it will likely be as a late-round selection or free agent who plays on special teams at first and eventually contributes as a change-of-pace and third-down back. Given his mid-major background, versatility, production, and physical profile, Smith at his best might be something akin to what Ahmad Bradshaw was coming out of Marshall in 2007.
Photo Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports