We all knew that Torrey Smith would enter the 2011 NFL Draft, because he said so himself after Maryland's win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Now, we know it for sure. The NFL just released its list of the 56 underclassmen that declared for the draft, and Smith's name was on it.
It remains unclear where Smith will go in the draft in April. He's projected to be a borderline first-round pick, and Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN has him going 27th to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons certainly could use another receiver opposite Roddy White, so the fit makes sense. SB Nation's mock draft blog Mocking the Draft has Smith going 29th to the Chicago Bears (though that pick has not been set). They, too, need a receiving threat.
Last season, as a junior, Smith caught 67 passes for 1,055 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns for the Terps. It'll be interesting to see if he shoots up the draft boards at the combine, much like former Maryland receiver Darius Heyward-Bey did a couple years ago.
Torrey Smith had a big year for the Terps, ranking among the best wide receivers in the Nation in many different statistical categories. Yet, until today, I hadn't seen him mentioned as a possible first round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Mel Kiper just released his first Mock Draft at ESPN, and he has Smith going 27th overall to the Atlanta Falcons. It's an insider article, so you'll have to take my word for it, but here is what he had to say about the pick.
Atlanta needs to develop a pass-catching target across from Roddy White, and Smith is a guy who can get downfield, work underneath and will always be a home run threat when he catches the ball. He also offers a serious threat in the return game. Atlanta doesn't have a lot of holes and Smith could help take this offense to another level as an explosive threat opposite White.
Smith could be one of those players, like Darius Heyward-Bey, who climbs up draft boards after the NFL Combine. If he is healthy, he should be able to put on a show in front of the scouts there with his size and athleticism. Hopefully, he doesn't end up going outside of his range like Heyward-Bey did. Smith has a chance to be a real difference maker at the next level, and I expect one of the teams drafting in the first round to recognize his potential and take him in the first round.
The Maryland Terrapins will already have a new coach next season after deciding to let Ralph Friedgen go a week ago. That new coach will now have to coach a team without his top offensive weapon. Junior wide receiver Torrey Smith announced after yesterday's Military Bowl that he will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2011 NFL Draft.
"It makes it a whole lot easier when you have the people you respect the most supporting your decision," Smith said. "It was definitely a tough decision, but it was one coach Friedgen was comfortable with, (wide receivers) coach (Lee) Hull, (director of character education) Kevin Glover. It just made me feel better about it."
Smith had a breakout season in 2010, catching 67 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Four of those touchdowns and 224 of those yards came in Maryland's final game of the regular season, a key 38-31 win over North Carolina State. There were whispers that he was planning on going pro, and the presence of a new coach certainly aided his decision.
Friedgen was fully supportive of Smith's decision, as he noted in the postgame press conference.
"His biggest decision is does he want to be able to take care of his family now or he waits and goes in the first round a year from now, he takes cares of them the rest of their lives," Friedgen said. "I think he's going to do everything he can to get drafted as high as he possibly can and I'm pulling for him and I told him I would help him in any way."