Syracuse Orange running back Jerome Smith was not expected to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft, but that’s exactly what the junior did yesterday after initially stating that he would not declare. Smith is one of the better power backs in the country with 840 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns this season, and he also checks in at 226 points. It’s unclear as to where Smith falls on big boards on draft day, but his lack of speed will likely make him a late-round pick.
Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson reported the news yesterday, as Jerome Smith tweeted his intention to declare and head coach Scott Shafer also announced that Smith would forego his final year of eligibility. It always looked like he would be a 2015 NFL Draft prospect, but now he’s somebody to keep a close eye on in the pre-draft process.
I’ll try to take a closer look at his college tape, but Smith seems like the definition of a workhorse back. Due to his lack of speed, athleticism, and all-around ability, Smith is more of a plodder and derives his value off of pure downhill rushing and vision. His style of play is the opposite of sexy, but he’s gotten the job done for Syracuse and averaged a steady 4.6 yards per carry this season. That makes him an interesting sixth-round pick, because he could end up being a solid back in the league at a low price, which is the sort of draft-day efficiency that makes him so interesting. Smith isn’t squarely on most people’s draft radar, but the fact that he’s declared is enough incentive to take a second look at him. This is a guy who doesn’t waste any movements out there, and he simply puts his head down and gets the job done as a rusher.