Think beyond this year.
That’s a difficult ask with everything that has happened in 2020 on and off the football field, but the New England Patriots and other NFL teams are doing just that as they continue to bring in veterans for tryouts late into the current campaign.
On Monday, one day after the Patriots laid a 45-point thrashing on the Los Angeles Chargers at beautiful SoFi Stadium, word spread, thanks to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, that New England was on the verge of meeting with two potential roster additions.
One of which was Devin Smith, a highly touted and athletic wide receiver out of Ohio State.
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Who is Devin Smith?
Smith played for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets over three seasons. He was originally drafted in the second round (No. 37 overall) by the Jets in 2015. He played two seasons there before he was released after suffering multiple torn ACLs in his right knee. He missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons before catching on with the Dallas Cowboys last year.
In four games, two of which were starts for the Cowboys, Smith hauled in 5 receptions for 113 yards, including a 51-yard bomb from Dak Prescott against the Washington Football Team.
Coming out of Ohio State, Smith clocked a 4.38 40-yard dash and was one of the fastest players in the 2015 NFL Draft. Based on his play with the Cowboys in 2019, it appears he still has a good amount of that speed.
Quite honestly, injuries have robbed Smith of some of his best years, but if he can remain healthy (which is obviously a big if) he may still have the athletic prowess to make a difference. He may only be in need of another chance.
It’s easy to see he still has the desire to play in the NFL.
Smith Unlikely to Make Any Impact in 2020
Even in the most optimistic of outlooks, the chances the Patriots sign Smith and he’s able to make an impact in 2020 are slim to none. This is likely a move (if it even happens) aimed at strengthening the team next season.
There is a chance one or more of the team’s current receivers won’t be on the roster next year, so the Patriots have seemingly been stockpiling young players at the position and keeping them on the practice squad. Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber, and Mason Kinney (since released) are examples of that concept.
Perhaps Smith could be another player added to that list.
Patriots’ Current Receiver Group Is Stepping Up
As of now, the current receiving group is stepping up — even without the injured and COVID-inactive Julian Edelman.
N’Keal Harry caught a touchdown pass during the rout of the Chargers, as did primary return man Gunner Olszewski. Mix that in with the maturation of Jakobi Meyers, steady play from Damiere Byrd and surprise contributions from the recently signed Donte Moncrief, and things don’t look as bleak for the unit as they did earlier in the season. Don’t get me wrong, there are no legitimate No. 1 options in this receiving corps, but they no longer appear to be as much of a liability.
This group will be interesting to watch over the final four weeks of the regular season, and perhaps the playoffs.
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