Dynasty Draft Profile: Darren Waller and DeAndre Smelter
March 17, 2015 | Chad Scott
Georgia Tech is a conundrum to me. Over the past decade, 80% of their offensive plays have been runs.Yet, since 2007, they’ve given us elite wide receivers in Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. They also gave us Stephen Hill – so there’s that.This year, the Yellow Jackets give unto us Darren Waller and DeAndre Smelter – two of the bigger bodies this class has to offer.
We’ll start with Waller… because he’s bigger. (Shameless #TeamBigWR plug)
Given his combination of size and speed, Waller has a chance to turn into something special in the NFL. It’s not often you come across a man 6-foot-6, 240lbs who happens to run a 4.46. While his agility score won’t impress at first glance, remember the size of human we’re discussing.
Although he improved his draft stock during the timed events, it’s worth noting Waller recorded four dropped passes at the combine – the most at the position – but seemed to shine in catching drills during his Pro Day last Friday.
Waller has basically been improving his draft stock since the last two games of his career – after Smelter suffered a season-ending ACL injury. In his final two games, Waller recorded 10 receptions, 187 yards and two touchdowns. That’s 19% of his career yards, 10% of his catches and 22% of his touchdown catches (via Ken Sugiura, of georgiatech.blog.ajc.com).
Waller took that momentum into the East-West Shrine game and impressed scouts and coaches during the week of practices by “physically dominating cornerbacks.” We also might have another Devin Funchess-type situation on our hands as Waller was asked several times by NFL team reps whether or not he’d be open to playing tight end in the NFL.
What stood out to me (aside from the speed), while scouring the interwebs for any sort of Darren Waller footage, was how soft his hands are. He doesn’t necessarily attack the ball, but never really needed to, either.
Here, Waller shows off his soft hands while keeping both feet inside the field of play. Great awareness.
Because GT primarily runs the triple-option, run-blocking is a must at the receiver position and Waller handles himself just fine there. He’s not afraid to initiate contact, then remain engaged in his block which helped spring more than a few big runs. If he is asked to play tight end in the NFL, at least he minored in run-blocking at Tech.
Then the speed. I’d post a GIF of Waller in his combine spandex, but this is a family-friendly site. So instead, I’ll gif you this. As you can see, Waller accessorizes his touchdowns with long, blatant drapes hanging from on high:
Can he learn a pro-style offense? Doesn’t seem to be a huge concern after the Shrine game where it was said Waller improved his route running every day. We know Calvin and DT came from the same school and style of offense, but both were much more successful in the passing game and both were better route runners. Aside from hands of granite, Stephen Hill’s biggest obstacles have been learning offenses and running correct routes since entering the NFL. Don’t look now, but Hill was a combine superstar whose production was fairly similar to Waller’s.
Because the NFL is a passing league, it’s imperative Waller hones his craft daily by going out and running routes. In my mind, he’s a project – for an NFL team or your fantasy football taxi squad.
If it’s the fourth round in my rookie draft and Waller’s name is there, I’m sure to grab him on a few squads, but I can’t help but think he’ll be more Stephen Hill than Demaryius Thomas once the dust has settled.
Moving on to his teammate, DeAndre Smelter…
I actually love this kid’s skill set and his ACL injury could be many fantasy owners gains.
Smelter was invited to the combine, but did not participate in any of the drills – only physical measurements. He stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 227lbs. His arms measured 33 inches at GT’s Pro Day while his hands came in at 11 1/8 inches (!).
Smelter only played two seasons at GT, but managed 56 receptions, 1060 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 22 games. His market share percentage of receiving yards: 20% in 2013; 38% in 2014. If you leave out the final two games he sat with injury, Smelter accounted for just over 42%.
Sure, Smelter has a long road ahead of him, but ACL injuries aren’t football death anymore, although ACL injuries near the end of a season basically suck…
As long as Smelter returns to 100% – like most do these days – I see him being the better dynasty asset long term. I made more GIFs, guys.
Smelter is a much more polished route runner than Waller (right now). Here, he runs a dig route – comes out of his break much faster than the defender and is able to move the chains:
Here’s how you say, “Excuse me, son,” whilst playing the footballs. Side note, the defender is Kendall Fuller who many believe will be a top-15 selection in 2016.
Lastly, Smelter is smaht enough to sit down in the zone and makes a smooth adjustment on a poorly thrown football… first down:
It’s more than possible neither prospect amounts to anything in the NFL – more importantly, on your dynasty squad. Hits and misses are all a part of why we play this damn game. What I do know is, if Smelter goes undrafted, I’ll be keeping a close eye on his landing spot because while Gil Brandt thinks Waller will be one of the steals of the NFL draft, Smelter will be a waiver-wire hero to someone’s dynasty squad in the short time to come.