Wait, Jonnu Smith is a Sleeper?

Coming from a small Florida university better known for their research than their football team, it’s easy to see why Jonnu Smith isn’t getting the attention he deserves. This year’s tight end draft class has been heralded as the best in years, and Jonnu Smith appears to be getting lost in the shuffle a bit when people bring up the likes of OJ Howard, David Njoku, and Evan Engram. Smith was drafted by the Titans with the 36th pick in Rd 3 (100th overall) with the express purpose of grooming him to be the heir apparent to Delanie Walker in Tennessee.

 

Draft Projection: Round 4

NFL Comparison: Delanie Walker

Bottom Line

Athletic tight end with four years of pass-catching production and experience as an in-line blocker. Smith is electric after the catch and has the speed to attack all three levels of the field, but his inconsistent hands could hold him back. Smith’s lack of size will likely push him into a “move tight end” role, but he’s a more effective blocker in the zone game than many who have been asked to do it on the pro level. – Lance Zierlein

Ironically enough Lance Zierlein even selected Walker as the NFL comparison for Smith on his NFL draft profile. These guys even traveled the same route going from small school prospect to NFL draft pick. I think a lot of knowledgeable dynasty drafters could make the same comparison, hell Delanie Walker even referenced the similarities himself on GMFB, but I wanted to take it a step further.

The following represents the player profiler statistics for Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith.

The similarities are so staggering in fact that these players are almost mirror images of one another from both a physical and athletic standpoint. I say almost because there are a few notable areas of difference and they all favor Jonnu Smith. Smith’s College Dominator Rating (33.0%) ranks in the 91st percentile and his Breakout Age (18.0) an even more impressive 100th percentile. Now, this isn’t meant as a slight to Walker who has turned himself from a San Fran afterthought into a high-end fantasy asset in Tennessee. This is specifically intended to show you the sort of athleticism that Smith possesses.  You don’t see these numbers very often kids!

https://3sigmaathlete.com/rankings/te/

Now let’s talk Smith’s SPARQ (a formula developed by Nike which measures player athleticism by outputting a single composite score) score. 3sigmaathlete.com back-calculated a reasonable approximation of the metric (Nike’s formula is not public), coming up with what they call pSPARQ. As you can see Smith is a mere 0.6 pts from falling inside the Top 5 of all 2017 draft eligible tight ends yet is still ahead of one O.J. Howard who is widely considered the top tight end in this draft class. Now Howard has earned that reputation because he is equally adept as both a blocker and pass catcher. Smith doesn’t project as the plus blocker that Howard is, but he possesses the functional strength (he was a competitive weightlifter in high school) and willingness to contribute adequately.

Jonnu Smith possesses the natural move tight end ability that should allow him to seamlessly transition into an already defined role in Tennessee as soon as 2018. My colleagues at Dynasty Football Factory have Smith as the consensus TE5 in Dynasty Rookie Rankings, which is quite high by industry standards, and I would still argue that he should be moved ahead of Jake Butt into our Top 4.  In our overall Dynasty Rankings, Jonnu Smith is the TE30, and it would be easy for me to get him into the Top 25 at his position.

Production. Athleticism. Landing spot.  Jonnu Smith checks all the boxes as a player that you should be targeting in your dynasty rookie or startup drafts.

Feel free to follow me or throw me some shade @DFF_Walk

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mwalker

Diehard Eagles fan, World’s Okayest Dad and Dynasty / IDP Writer for the Dynasty Football Factory.

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