PatriotsInsider.com has confirmed that USC receiver Steve Smith is set to travel to Foxborough for a pre-draft visit with the New England Patriots. After already working out for the San Diego Chargers earlier this week, Smith will also visit the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers in his tour of facilities around the league.
Smith (6-foot, 200 lbs) is an elite talent who noticeably bettered himself during each of his four seasons at USC. His career totals include 190 receptions for 3,019 yards and 22 touchdowns.
In the world of solid No. 2 receivers, Steve Smith deserves to be No. 1. Unfortunately for him, that honor belonged to his teammate Dwayne Jarrett at USC. Smith played in the Jarrett's shadow as John David Booty's other target last year, and Matt Leinart's the year before.
In 2006 Smith outgained Jarrett although in a more workmanlike manner. Smith set personal bests in catches (71), yards (1,083) and scores (nine) compared to Jarrett's season totals of 70 catches for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith's was named first-team All-Pac 10 for his efforts.
In 2005 when Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White were part of the Trojans team, Jarrett was the leading USC receiver. Jarrett recorded 91 catches for 1,274 yards (14.0 avg.) and 16 touchdowns, while Smith recorded 60 catches for 957 yards (15.9 avg.) and 5 touchdowns.
Smith has plenty of believers after posting nearly 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in a top college program. He's rated as one of the top 20 receivers in the draft by Scout.com and projected to go in the first or second round by most experts.
|Southern California's Steve Smith (2) is hauled down by Michigan's Leon Hall (29) in the third quarter at the 93rd Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)|
TFY Draft Preview's Tony Pauline said of Smith's Combine performance "Known more as a slow possession receiver, Smith scorched the RCA Dome turf by running a pair of 40s at 4.40-seconds. He then displayed his signature hands of glue in practice. Smith solidified himself as a first day choice and could jump into the initial 75-selections"
Smith has the size and the speed to be the perfect replacement for Deion Branch. With 4.4 speed, Smith has just enough top end to get downfield, but he is not going to blow by defenders. His route running and ability to find holes in the defense are what enable him to be the playmaker many teams need in their offense. His experience in the pro-style offense at USC should translate into a quicker transition from the college to pro game for him wherever he lands.
Smith is just one of the top receivers who have visits planned for Foxborough. Tennessee's Robert Meachem was already in, as was Aundrae Allison of East Carolina. Sidney Rice of East Carolina is set to visit in the near future.
See Smith's Combine Interview on ScoutTV:
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