The offseason acquisition of Brandon Marshall was a huge upgrade for the Jets receiving core from last year. With Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside, Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro on the inside, the only piece missing was a true deep threat. Now they’ve found that deep threat and his name is Devin Smith.
Smith didn’t run anywhere near a complete route-tree at Ohio State, he never had to. Ohio State’s offense was a heavy-running-attack mixed with some deep passes, their intermediate passing game was virtually non-existent, and it worked all the way to becoming National Champions.
The Buckeyes rushing-attack would have been hard enough for opposing defenses to stop without having to also worry about the occasional deep threat but their big-play ability in the passing game often left defenses in no-man’s land, trying to protect against two completely different forms of attack, without the ability to stop either.
Opposing defenses knew they had to worry about Smith deep, they knew if it was a pass play it was most likely going to be a deep-ball and still they could rarely stop it.
“Really just speed. I threaten them, made them think I was going one way when I was going deep,” Smith said. “Most of the time they played me off, I really didn’t get much press coverage in college so it made it kind of easy.”
And he won’t get much press coverage in the NFL either, at least not this year.
Not with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker commanding most of the attention. Sure, he’ll face some occasionally, and he’ll certainly face his fair share in training camp lined up against Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but more often than not opposing defenses will be forced to play off Smith and hope he doesn’t run right over the top of the soft coverage.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Smith said when asked if he feels his skill-set perfectly compliments Marshall and Decker. “I felt whatever team was going to pick me up I was going to be able to fill that role. So, I’m looking forward to it.”
Because Ohio State did so little in the short-to-middle passing game some people have assumed that means Smith doesn’t have the ability to do so. Obviously Smith is not one of those people who thinks he is a “one-trick” pony nor is he worried about those skeptics.
“I really don’t worry about it,” Smith said. “I know how good I am, I wouldn’t be here, obviously, if I couldn’t do anything but I really don’t worry about it and (I’ll) just keep playing my game. Just keep doing what I do, I make plays, and just have fun.”
Smith said he can “absolutely” develop an intermediate game, “I’ve done it in college plenty of times, (but in) the offense that we ran we wanted to take shots and go deep so that’s what we did.” In order to accomplish this Smith says all he has to do is, “Just keep running routes. That’s pretty much how you get better at that, is to keep repping it. So, that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing is keep repping all the other routes.”
Smith, who said the comparison he heard about himself was DeSean Jackson, is looking forward to becoming a DeSean Jackson-like threat for the Jets and he knows the talent around him, in this receiving unit, will make the transition that much easier for the rookie to be the deep threat the Jets need.
“It makes it a lot easier with guys like that as your teammates so they can tell you everything that has helped them be successful and how to beat press coverage and how to get open,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to just learning from those guys.”