Smith says size doesn't matter

Small corners, at least in stature, get a bad rap by NFL talent-evaluators. That's something that Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith is fighting against even though he is one of the more prolific defensive backs to come out of the college ranks, but he says the proof is in the tape and that he isn't going to run away from any type of a challenge...

"Most of the teams have their regional scouts and their head scouts have watched the film, so they see how productive I am and the plays that I make," Smith said confidently at last weekend's NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "Of course height is always going to be an issue. I can't do anything about that. It's unfortunate how much people put into the height.

"I always make this comment, 'I've never been this tall a day in my life.' And I've gotten this far. I can't do anything about it and I'm going to continue to get the question, maybe four or five years down the road. So the only thing I can say is I make plays and I'm a pretty decent player."

That's an understatement.

Smith had 21 interceptions in his four seasons with the Demon Deacons, including eight in 2007 when he led the nation. He also ran three back for touchdowns, including a school-record 100 yard interception return against Maryland, and he was a unanimous All-American selection after posting 37 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior this past fall.

"Personally, I think I compensate for (his lack of height) with the ball skills that I have, the knowledge of the game and just the way I approach the game. I'm very, very competitive," Smith said. "Every summer, I get a chance to face (fellow Pahokee natives) Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes when they come home. So it's not much of a big deal to myself.

"I'm a ballplayer, I'm competitive. I do what I do, and I do it very well."

Obviously, confidence isn't a problem for Smith, but that's a trait that a lot of top corners have. He says he believes he's a first-round talent and once again he said his productivity speaks for itself.

"We'll see in April," Smith said matter-of-factly. "I think I am (a first rounder). I think out of all the defensive backs, I've had the most productive career. Twenty-one career interceptions. I've made plays from my freshman year to my sophomore year to my junior year to my senior year. So I think I am.

"I think, honestly, I'm the best corner in this draft. But I have certain things against me -- my height, I played at Wake Forest, My top-end speed -- I just know I've made plays."

Even when Smith isn't intercepting the ball, he's getting his hands on plenty of them, knocking down 61 passes in four years.

"The first is, you have to be smart," Smith opined. "You have to understand the defense. That's one of the things I did. I understood our defense and I knew when I could take chances and when I could not take chances.

"It's just my ball skills. I was an offensive player my whole life until I got to Wake Forest. So I was used to getting the ball in my hands. Just my attitude and things like that."

At this point, Smith projects as a mid-second rounder who could move up with a solid performance at the combine and a good workout at his pro day on March 23rd.

Smith's quickness, aggressive style and ball skills set him apart from other corners his size and he's got a chance to be a real contributor to an NFL secondary early in his career.


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