One day after dipping into the JUCO ranks for an OLB, UofL dips into them again to pick up 2020 JUCO WR Braden Smith of Northwest Mississippi Community College.
— Braden Smith (@braden_smith11) June 17, 2019
Smith stands 5’10 and weighs 180 lbs. He chose UofL over offers from Louisiana, Austin Peay, and Western Michigan per 247sports. He originally walked on to the Mississippi State football team before ending up at the community college.
Smith is your prototypical slot receiver. This is the position UofL wants him in. Originally, he was a QB in high school. While at Northwest Mississippi Community College last season, Smith had 45 receptions for 537 yards and 8 TDs per 247sports. He averaged about 12 yards per catch.
Watching Braden Smith’s highlights, I saw exactly what I expected to see; a fast, agile receiver with good hands, catching ability, and route running skills. He’s not afraid to go over the middle to catch the ball and having 8 TDs on 45 receptions tells me he is a dangerous weapon both in stretching the field and in red zone/goal line situations. He’s also a good downfield blocker.
Now let’s get into some of the details of Smith’s skills.
As is usually expected with a slot receiver, Braden Smith is fast and agile. His speed makes him a threat to stretch the field with catches for long gains and taking short catches and getting yards after the catch.
He’s also very quick and agile. This allows him to get open consistently for catches and it makes him a dangerous runner after the catch; allowing him to dodge tackles and juke defenders.
The very first highlight shows Braden Smith’s speed as he blows right by the defender and makes a 31 yard over the shoulder catch for a TD. His second highlight is a carbon copy of the first as he blows by the defender for about a 40 yard TD catch. We can definitely see his ability to stretch the field.
As far as quickness and agility, check out the highlight at about the 1:46 mark. It’s a red zone situation. Smith is thrown a bubble screen and has space. A defender comes to tackle him. He fakes as if he’s going toward the sideline and breaks the defender’s ankles. He then cuts back in and scores with ease. His last highlight is of him making a nice little cut to gain extra yards after a catch.
Smith is a speedy playmaker with the ability to make some nice plays the ball in his hands.
Smith is very good at a receiver’s primary job, catching the ball. On long bombs, he is very good at tracking the ball in the air and watching it into his hands. Speaking of hands, they are sure as he catches the ball. He’s good at catching the ball in front of him with his hands and away from his body. He’s fearless as he makes a ton of catches over the middle and never alligator arms them.
His first two highlights show his tracking and good hands. Both are long bombs and he’s able to look back and see the ball and watch it into his hands with over the shoulder TD catches. It’s pretty.
A highlight with about 32 seconds left on the video shows his prowess over the middle. Surrounded by defenders, Smith goes up to catch a ball. He extends his arms and reels it in. He doesn’t get hit and he has a chance to get a couple yards after the catch. However, as he went up, he didn’t know he wasn’t going to get blasted. The point is he didn’t care if he did. He was going to get that ball.
A fearless, sure-handed slot receiver is an asset to any team. Just ask Clemson and Hunter Renfrow.
Braden Smith is a sharp route runner; very precise and it gets him open a lot. He runs a variety of routes from in routes to out routes to skinny posts and go routes.
There isn’t one highlight I can point out. Just watch the whole highlight video and you will see him break his routes sharply and find the open window on the field for the QB to get him the ball.
I will say my favorite routes he runs are the in and out routes. He sets them perfectly and doesn’t telegraph which way he will break. When he breaks, it is a sharp plant and cut to the middle or the sideline. It’s beautiful really.
Route running is exceedingly important for a smaller slot receiver and this is possibly Braden’s greatest skill.
There are only two highlights of Smith blocking, but he does a good job of holding his block and allowing the ball carrier to make good gains. He stays engaged and isn’t shedded easily. He is good at sealing off the defender from the hole. It shows he can move the defender instead of the defender moving him.
Downfield blocking is important in Coach Satterfield’s run heavy offense. Smith shows, albeit in limited highlights, he can do the job.
UofL got a nice depth piece in Braden Smith who can be a contributor right away. I imagine he can be a big weapon in the redzone with his speed and cutting. Also, his ability to block will allow him to help with the running game in the redzone.
With Braden Smith’s commitment, UofL’s class is ranked 21 on 247sports with 17 commits. The class is coming together nicely for Scott Satterfield.