Route-Running: Irv Smith Jr is a fantastic route runner. Uses his body well to create space on his routes. The area where he struggles to create space is when he throttles down too much before breaking. Can be fixed with the right coaching and technique. Does a great job turning his hips quickly and locating the football.
Ball Skills: His catch radius is not the biggest nor has he shown or had the opportunity to catch a ton of passes outside his frame. Not consistent high point full extension, pinpoint catcher of the football. Does show flashes to have strong hands where he catches the football away from his body.
Speed: Has average at best speed but shows enough of it to get open. Working in a vertical system at Alabama will help his ability to translate to the vertical passing schemes of the NFL. If he is able to run a 4.8 that would be solid for him, maybe a little faster. Struggles to get off the line on the snap of the ball and builds slowly to gain top speed.
Blocking: His best trait by far. Excels at getting his body square and using his hands and legs to drive defenders off the line. Has great pro level technique and does not fall off contact. Finishes consistently and uses leverage to take bigger defenders out of the play.
Competitiveness: Ultra-competitive and tough. Shown flashes of fieriness even. Relentless in both catching the football but most importantly blocking.
Red Flags: None at all. Never in trouble on or off the field while at Alabama.
Analysis: Where the Saints struggled this year is in having other options on offense outside of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Adding Irv Smith would be a huge help to not only the pass offense, but in my opinion more importantly in the running game. The Saints offense is at its best when it can run the football and then allow for Drew to pick apart the secondary when the threat of the run is there. In order for the Saints to do this then need good blocking up front. Which is why if Irv Smith were to fall, in this ridiculously deep tight end class then Saints fans should be jumping for joy. Irv Smith will help take pressure off of Michael Thomas because of Smith’s ability to run good routes and cause trouble after the catch. He has shown solid hands and if he can learn to make tough contested catches, then this will take the offense to even higher heights. I have heard a lot of chatter about Jimmy Graham coming back, but to be honest I say we shoot for Irv Smith because of his ability to block, but also cost/accountability.