A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.
Name: Cam Smith
Weight: 180 pounds
Combine Results: 4.43 40-yard dash, 38” vertical, 11’2” broad
When Jaycee Horn was drafted with the eighth overall pick two years ago, South Carolina anticipated Cam Smith to fill his spot as a reliable shutdown corner. Those were the ambitions when the Gamecocks secured the commitment of Smith, a four-star recruit and second-ranked player in the state of South Carolina.
Smith had already gotten his feet wet in 2020, when Horn and current Cowboy Israel Mukuamu were the starters at cornerback. He started six games and tied both Horn and Mukuamu for the team lead in interceptions. When it was time for Smith to step up and fully replace Horn, he didn’t disappoint: three interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and the lowest passer rating allowed of any corner in the nation.
Smith entered 2022 with the loftiest of expectations, and while he didn’t quite live up to them, he still had a strong season. He finished among the top 30 of corners in completion rate allowed, passer rating allowed, and coverage snaps per reception. Smith may not be entering the draft with the kind of hype that Horn had a couple years ago, but he figures to be a firm Day 2 pick.
Man Coverage: Smith is sticky in man coverage. He does a great job of jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and then flipping his hips to get in phase and mirror them in their routes. In off coverage, he exhibits excellent closing speed, never straying too far away from the receiver no matter how much cushion he gives.
Zone Coverage: Smith plays with great anticipation, expertly reading the quarterback’s eyes and knowing when to make a break. He’s better when playing in press bail technique in zone concepts, but he has the processing and closing speed to still put up very effective reps in zone coverage.
Playmaking Ability: He understands to go after the ball rather than the receiver, and he plays aggressive at the catch point. He’s solely focused on affecting the ball, which means he rarely gets caught going for the big play. When the situation calls for it, Smith has shown the ability to make the interception, but it’s not his top priority.
Athleticism: He has elite athleticism, especially when it comes to explosion. He put on a show at the combine, and that kind of athleticism is all over his tape. NFL teams won’t have to worry about his ability to keep up with receivers.
Run Support: Smith is a willing and able tackler, but his slight frame is an impediment here. At just 180 pounds, Smith doesn’t have much momentum behind him, especially when coming down in run support. He takes good enough angles, but has missed at least five tackles in each of the last three seasons.
Processing: Smith is a very heady player with a great sense for route patterns, route-running nuances, and quarterback progressions. He plays with clean eyes, reading his keys well and reacting with more than enough time to fly in and make a play.
Intangibles: There were rumblings out of the combine that Smith didn’t do well in the private interviews with teams, with some having questions about his work ethic and off-field behavior. That never seemed to be an issue at South Carolina, but one could look at Smith’s relative letdown of a 2022 campaign and connect the dots, if the rumored concerns are true.