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Curran: Does DeVonta Smith's wispy frame rule him out for Patriots?

/ by Tom E. Curran
Presented By John's Sewer
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Get that man a protein shake!

Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who we all knew was on the wispy side to begin with, reportedly weighed in at 166 pounds at a recent medical check in Indianapolis.

The Senator points out that our guy DeVonta is checking in 20 pounds lighter than the lightest receiver Bill Belichick ever drafted, Braxton Berrios.

Did I just mention Braxton Berrios and DeVonta Smith in the same sentence? Do I understand those two men are practically different species of wide receiver? Yes. And yes.

But no matter how otherworldly quick, precise, elusive and gifted in matters of proprioception Smith may be relative to Berrios and everybody else on the planet, it remains fair to wonder if he has the meat on his bones to excel consistently in a job that can be physically taxing.

Patriots Talk Podcast: A deep dive into Bill Belichick's draft strategy | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTubeThe question isn’t, “Can DeVonta Smith play in the NFL?” Of course he can. And will. And there will be -- when he’s done with his career -- some jaw-dropping plays to look back on. But how long can a guy who will be routinely outweighed by 30 pounds hold up to the hits?

 

If he’s got to waterbug out of harm’s way all the time, how limited is an offensive coordinator in what he can ask Smith to do? Are Smith’s assets enough to wipe away his logical limitations as a blocker or concern about how he’ll get loose from press coverage when hands are laid on him? Will he be able to play the full slate year after year?

Smith’s name is on people’s lips relative to the Patriots because the enjoyable Peter Schrager mocked him to New England this week. Schrager last had the Patriots trading up to No. 4 for Justin Fields.

There’s a chance our guy Pete is carpet-bombing the internet with fun scenarios and spending a little less time on the prototypes a team like the Patriots looks for, especially at wideout.

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That’s no sin. And it’s fun to think of a player like Smith in the local team’s uniform because he can do stuff few others can. But chew on this: Julian Edelman was 198 pounds. Deion Branch was 195. Wes Welker was 185.

Smith caught 185 passes for 3,112 yards and 37 touchdowns the past two years at Alabama. He’s electrifying. But the SEC is not the NFL. People talk about how Alabama or LSU have a dozen NFL players every year. You know how many NFL players are on the Jaguars or Bengals? Fifty-three. Each.

Somebody’s going to love DeVonta Smith in the first round of this draft. Could it still be the Patriots? I will just relate this story to you. At the 2010 NFL Owners Meeting, we were sitting with Bill Belichick at the annual coaches breakfast. I kinda thought a third down back to complement Kevin Faulk was a need spot. And I LOVED Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss.

So I mentioned him to Belichick. And Belichick looked at me and said with that “You’re kidding, right” tone: “What’s he, like 175 pounds?”

Actually, McCluster was 170. He went in the second round to Kansas City. The Patriots signed Danny Woodhead early in the 2010 season. Woodhead went on to have a delightful career. Certainly better than Dexter’s.

And that, “What is he, like 175 pounds?” line has kinda lodged in my mind ever since.