Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Alphonso Smith
Alphonso Smith (CB)
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 193
College: Wake Forest
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Pahokee, FL
High School: Pahokee
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Denver Broncos
Round: 2
Pick (Overall): 5 (37)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The ultra-productive ballhawk gives the Broncos another cover corner with big-play ability. Though Smith lacks ideal size and speed, he has an outstanding feel for the game and is an ideal nickel corner in the Broncos' defense.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Smith is just the third player this century to amass 20 or more interceptions in a career, joining Jim Leonhard of Wisconsin (21, 2001-04) and Mitch Meeuwsen of Oregon State (20, 2001-04), and only the second in Atlantic Coast Conference annals to reach that lofty mark (Dre' Bly of North Carolina had 20, 1996-98). Only nine other players in the history of college football (all levels) have produced more interceptions in a career than Smith.


What makes Smith even more valuable at his position is his ability to make big plays in the backfield. Few cornerbacks, much less ones that stand just 5-feet-9 can boast having nine sacks, 23.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight forced fumbles on those hits during a career. He also adds to his resume as a capable kickoff returner, averaging 20.7 yards for his career, along with using his superb leaping ability and timing to block five kicks during his time at Wake Forest.


Smith was a standout player at quarterback and defensive back during his days at Pahokee High School, where he was the runner-up for state Player of the Year honors as a senior. He helped the Blue Devils to a 13-1 record and the Class 2B state championship, earning MVP honors in the state title game, throwing a 58-yard touchdown strike to current Deacon teammate Demir Boldin in that contest.


As a quarterback, Smith threw for 2,400 yards and 32 touchdowns and also rushed for 640 yards and six scores in 2003. He was responsible for 38 touchdowns as a senior, including scores on interception, punt, kickoff and fumble returns. He added 27 tackles, a sack and four interceptions as a cornerback, earning first-team All-State honors. He also played in the Outback Bowl and the Palm Beach All-Star Game. In addition to football, he was a starter on the basketball team.


Smith came to Wake Forest with high school teammates D.J. Boldin and Antonio Wilson, spending the 2004 season performing on the scout team. He made an immediate impact during 2005 spring camp, emerging as the team's starting left cornerback. He would earn consensus Freshman All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors that season. He placed fourth on the team with 60 tackles (52 solos), adding two sacks and eight stops for loss, along with a forced fumble. He picked off three passes, deflected nine throws and blocked a pair of kicks.


Smith started the first three games at left cornerback before coming off the bench for the rest of the 2006 campaign. He posted 48 tackles (37 solos) and led the ACC cornerbacks with four sacks and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He batted down eight passes and had another three interceptions. He also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.


In 2007, Smith garnered national recognition with his first All-American award. The All-ACC first-team pick ranked tied for second in the nation with eight interceptions, as he returned three of them for touchdowns, one shy of the NCAA single-season record. He added 44 tackles with three sacks and led the conference with four forced fumbles. He also had 10 pass deflections and blocked a kick for the third consecutive season.


In his own version of the game show, "Can You Top This," Smith did so as a senior. The consensus All-American tied for third in the nation with seven interceptions in 2008, adding a team-high thirteen pass deflections. He averaged 22.0 yards as a kickoff returner, blocked a kick and caused two fumbles. He was credited with 37 tackles (28 solos) while starting all 13 games while shuttling between free safety and left cornerback.


High School

Attended Pahokee (Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach Leroy Foster... Standout at quarterback and defensive back...Runner-up for state Player of the Year honors as a senior...Helped the Blue Devils to a 13-1 record and the Class 2B state championship, earning MVP honors in the state title game, throwing a 58-yard touchdown strike to Deacon teammate Demir Boldin in that contest...As a quarterback, Smith threw for 2,400 yards and 32 touchdowns and also rushed for 640 yards and six scores in 2003...Responsible for 38 touchdowns as a senior, including scores on interception, punt, kickoff and fumble returns...Added 27 tackles, a sack and four interceptions as a cornerback, earning first-team All-State honors. He also played in the Outback Bowl and the Palm Beach All-Star Game...In addition to football, he was a starter on the basketball team.


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Analysis

Positives: Excellent ball skills, closing on the ball quickly and watching it into his hands. Can adjust to ball over his shoulder. Able to return interceptions for significant yardage. Very good speed to stay with receivers down the sideline, along with fluid hips and excellent quickness to handle short-area responsibilities. Reads the quarterback well, and can undercut throws to make a play. Very confident on an island, and won't back down even if giving up size to his opponent. Able to get position on receivers in order to cut off routes. Not shy about contact, and will attempt to wrap tackle in the open or cut if needed. Can close down the sideline on outside runs. Tries to strip the ball when part of a gang tackle. Got touches as a receiver on quick screens, and could be a return option.


Negatives: Short with only an adequate build and strength. Gives up several inches in height to outside receivers who can take advantage of him in jump balls down the sideline and red-zone situations. Can get vertical quickly, but isn't strong enough to out-fight bigger receivers for the ball. Struggles to get off decent receiver run blocks in space. Not a great one-on-one open-field tackler. Best as a zone corner or in the slot, as he may have problems jamming physical receivers at the line of scrimmage.


Compares To: DRE' BLY, ex-Denver -- Smith is an extraordinary pass thief with great timing and recovery speed. He plays taller than his size indicates, but is not strong enough to challenge more physical receivers, especially in press coverage. He is best suited to be a zone corner or operate in the slot in man coverage as he will get soft on you if bounced around by bigger blockers.


Injury Report

No injuries reported.


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