Even if he was ruled down earlier than he hoped, Chris Smith displayed just how elusive he can be.
Against Appalachian State in a 2021 Sun Belt matchup, the Louisiana running back began a play in the backfield to the right in a shotgun formation. He was handed the ball and began running left, then he located a running lane immediately.
When a defender tried wrapping Smith up, he spun away and kept moving, even though officials later ruled his knee had touched the ground. But when another App State player attempted a tackle, Smith shed that with ease.
And when yet another defender dove at him, Smith hurdled his opponent. This all happened in the span of eight seconds.
Smith is undoubtedly challenging to tackle, and that won’t change when he joins the NFL ranks.
Chris Smith Stats And Highlights
Smith was all-conference honoree each of the past three seasons in two different roles.
Last year, he was an All-Sun Belt honorable mention running back. But the two seasons before, he was a first-team all-conference return specialist while earning some All-American accolades along the way.
In 2022, he ran for 628 yards and three touchdowns on 126 carries. He also caught 21 passes for 155 yards and a score while returning 14 kicks for 311 yards.
The season before, he led the team with 855 yards and eight touchdowns on 153 carries. That helped him earn third-team All-Sun Belt accolades on offense. As a first-team all-conference returner, he totaled 481 yards on 23 kick returns.
In 2020, he returned 23 kicks for 617 yards and two touchdowns, which was fourth in the country. He added 359 yards and a touchdown on 62 rushing attempts while chipping in 170 yards and a touchdown on 16 receptions.
Chris Smith Draft Projection
Smith may have worked his way up to being a sixth-round draft pick. Many believe he’ll go late on the third day of the NFL Draft or become an undrafted free agent.
Chris Smith Draft Profile
Smith’s speed will be one of his greatest attributes in the NFL. That will help him be a great pass-catching running back and returner as a professional.
At his Pro Day, Smith clocked a time of 4.4 seconds in his 40-yard dash. That would’ve been the fourth-best time at the NFL Combine this year among running backs.
That acceleration was on display every time Smith touched the ball. He can reach his top-end speed in a hurry.
He also has good footwork and anticipation when he’s trying to find a hole at the line of scrimmage. He knows exactly when and where to make his cut. He also knows how to use leverage and angles to his advantage when defenders are pursuing him.
His vision was evident on returns. He changes his speed at opportune times and is patient enough for blocks to develop so he maximizes every opportunity he has to gain yards.
Smith was 5-foot-9, 200 pounds in college. So while he’s not the biggest running back, he’s willing to block and be physical in pass protection.
And in the passing game, Smith snatches passes out of the air with confidence. He does a good job of keeping his balance and not breaking stride, even when throws are behind him.
While Smith isn’t regarded as one of the best running backs in this class, he surely could be a beneficial addition to an NFL roster.