Orwin Smith was a fan favorite during his time on campus, but that is irrelevant now that the NFL Draft is approaching. He was unable to attend the combine and didn’t participate in Tech’s pro day, which caused his draft stock to take a hit. The most important thing in the scouting process, however, is game tape, and Orwin has quite a bit of it. He was a key contributor in Tech’s offense for three years and has made many game-changing plays in his career. This scouting report will highlight his key strengths and weaknesses by looking at the first half of the Miami game from last season (I decided to spare everyone the second half) and a highlight video of his career. Below are the two videos respectively and he is #17 like always.
Orwin Smith has prototypical RB size at 6′, 205 lbs and has excellent complementary speed (his speed helped him average 9.3 YPC at Tech). When he receives the ball in space, he consistently has the speed to turn the corner and get around defenders. At 21:40 in the first video, he is able to take a block from the WR and turns it into a huge gain. His speed allows him to outrun the defenders who originally had decent angles. Again at 24:05 in the same video, he receives the pitch and has the speed to turn the corner and dive into the endzone. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t able to run a 40 at the combine or Tech’s pro day since he probably would have impressed the scouts.
Another impressive part of his game is his ability to break tackles and fight for extra yards. Here’s a few times in the second video (3:40, 3:55, 7:45, and 8:40) where Smith was able to break tackles and get a ton of yards after first contact. He does an excellent job of staying on his feet and his big frame allows him to run through arm tackles. One of the best parts of his game is his ability to fight for extra yards. At 26:10 in the second video, he hurdles a player, breaks a tackle, and then uses his hand to stay up for the last 5 yards to get the touchdown. This is a great individual play that shows his effort and determination to get into the endzone. Also check out 31:30, where he voluntarily hurdles a player (knowing he’s going to get hit in the air) to get an extra few yards. Since he is a bigger back, this allows him to fall forward and get 5 more yards. He has shown the ability to gain extra yards without fumbling the ball, which is very important for RBs.
Orwin’s last major strength of note is his ability to catch the football. He catches the ball away from his body and has soft hands, which is why Tech occasionally used him in the slot where they could take advantage of his receiving skills. The first catch to check out is at 37:45 in the second video, where he adjusts to the pass by turning his body and catches the ball effortlessly. He does a good job of catching the pass and holding onto the ball as the defender makes the tackle. At 38:50 in the video, he shows great sideline awareness by keeping his feet inbounds when he lands. He made this play look much easier than it actually was. The last time to watch is 42:20, where he catches the ball in the air while getting hit by the defender. He is able to hang onto the ball through the tackle, which is impressive considering the hit he took. Orwin Smith’s ability to catch the ball may be his ticket to making an NFL roster.
The first issue with Smith’s game is that he never ran the ball between the tackles in college. In Paul Johnson’s system, this was usually the B Back’s job while the A Backs focused on rushing outside the tackles. Smith was clearly playing the right position given his skill set, but it will be very hard for him to adjust to running the ball between the tackles in the NFL. He will have to be serviceable between the tackles to make a team, and it’s almost impossible to tell if he’ll have the vision necessary to do it well. Given his size and frame, he shouldn’t have a major problem taking NFL hits though, which should help him break some tackles.
Smith’s next weakness is his inability to block. At 34:25 in the first video, Smith tries to hold a block on the LB, who is able to get away from it and disrupt the play. In the NFL, he’ll sometimes have to block blitzing linebackers or safeties, and that could be a problem for him right now. The one reason why it isn’t a major concern is because blocking can be coached, which means he can still fix this issue. If he puts in the effort and hard work, he can become a better blocker, which is really important for RBs in today’s NFL.
Smith’s final weakness is that he doesn’t have the change of direction ability to be an every down back. He isn’t a shifty runner, which may cause problems on plays going up the middle at the next level. This weakness may not affect him making a team, but it will certainly limit his use in an offense since there aren’t many every down RBs in the NFL who lack above average change of direction skills.
Although Orwin Smith has a few flaws in his game, he has prototypical NFL size and speed. He is a determined runner who can turn the corner with his speed and break tackles in space. He may not have great change of direction ability, but he fights for yards and makes plays. Since he has excellent hands, he projects as a 3rd down back in the NFL, where he can take screen passes and turn them into big plays. Teams can also use him as a kick returner (averaged 21.2 yards per return in college) to get him on the field more often. For those two reasons, a team could take a chance on him in the 7th round, but it’s more likely he will go undrafted and become one of the top UDFAs available. Either way he will get an opportunity to join an NFL training camp and prove he belongs in the league. Where do you think Orwin Smith will land, whether it’s through the draft or free agency?