Smelley was a quarterback in high school and considered a two-star wide receiver recruit, staying close to home and enrolling at Alabama. He was expected to redshirt in 2008, but came off the bench halfway through the season and contributed as a freshman receiver in 7 games, recording 7 catches for 98 yards (14.0). Smelley moved to the h-back position in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 7 receptions for 50 yards (7.1). He played in all 13 games in 2010 as a junior, recording 6 catches for 55 yards (9.2). Smelley became the starting h-back in 2011 and had his best season as a senior (10 starts), finishing with 34 catches for 356 yards (10.5) and 4 scores.
Smelley, the younger brother of former South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley, wasn?t highly regarded out of high school and was an underwhelming performer in his first three collegiate seasons, but proved to be a consistent weapon in Alabama?s conservative offense this past year. He is a hard-working blocker at the line of scrimmage and on the perimeter in space, but lacks ideal technique and power in either area.
Smelley is an overachieving player who showed consistent receiving ability as the Tide?s safety valve h-back in 2011. There is a lot to love about his toughness and ability to block in motion with his physical, hard-working nature, but his athletic and strength limitations will cause him to struggle at the next level. He projects as a reserve h-back at-best in the NFL and will need to be a stud special teams player to stick on a roster.
Strengths: Possesses a good combination of strength and balance and does a nice job running with his pads close to the ground. Has good hand/eye coordination and reliable hands ? proved to be an effective pass catcher in the short field. Has admirable toughness after the catch, lowering his shoulders and welcoming contact. Fights for every yard and doesn?t leave production on the field. Has a solid build with enough strength to be an effective downfield blocker, most effective on the move. Possesses very good footwork and awareness along the sidelines and does a nice job on special teams coverage. Had his best production as a senior and finished the season as the second-leading receiver for college football?s National Champions (almost doubled his production in 2011 and scored his first touchdown). Smelley is a strong practice player and has very good football work ethic and intangibles.
Weaknesses: A very ordinary athlete, lacking fluidity in his body movements with stiff hips. Has tweener size and strength with average height and length. A one-speed player and isn?t sudden or explosive off the line of scrimmage or in/out of his breaks. Doesn?t track the ball easily downfield and had limited production on catch attempts over 10+ yds. Not a natural bender and struggles with leverage and generating power from his lower half. Not the most technically refined pass protector or run blocker and plays reckless at times. Had very limited production over his first three seasons.
NFL Comparison: Chris Gronkowski, Indianapolis Colts
-- Dane Brugler