The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. It’s important for daily fantasy players to 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 Central Florida wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 6.
Redshirt Junior | 6’2″ and 203 Pounds | Born January 7, 1996 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 3-4
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.49 sec | bench reps: 12 | 3-cone: 6.97 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.5 sec | vertical: 37.5 in | broad: 130 in
Smith is the type of receiver I tend to like more than most draft analysts. Despite attending the Senior Bowl and showing playable speed and explosiveness at the combine, Smith has received so little hype that I expect him to be a Day 3 prospect, but he has significant Day 2 potential. A three-star recruit entering college, Smith isn’t an elite athlete, but with his size and style of play he might be able to succeed in the NFL even with average athleticism. While it’s possible that Smith could’ve benefited from another year in college, he was probably wise to declare for the draft early given his age, production, and the departure of head coach Scott Frost.
After redshirting in 2014, Smith emerged as the team’s top pass catcher in 2015 thanks to the early departure of No. 1 wide receiver and future first-rounder Breshad Perriman. Although the Knights were awful, going 0-12 and finishing with one of the worst offenses in football, Smith led the team with 52 receptions, 724 yards, and four touchdowns, capturing 32.2 and 30.8 percent of the receiving yards and touchdowns — strong numbers for a first-year player. He progressed in 2016 (Frost’s first season at UCF) with 57 receptions, 853 yards, and five touchdowns, and last year he turned into one of the most dominant receivers in the country: He was first among all draft-eligible wide receivers with a 142.9 passer rating when targeted (Pro Football Focus), and even though he was often targeted downfield — he was third in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 16 deep receptions of 20-plus yards — he still managed to catch an outstanding 71.1 percent of his total targets for 1,171 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He even chipped in five rushes for 23 yards and a touchdown. Even if he’s selected in the middle rounds, Smith has the potential to produce like a second-rounder thanks to his physicality and ability to make plays all over the field.
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports