Combining Smith with NFL-level training, and the Bengals may have an elite offensive lineman on their hands.
The Cincinnati Bengals had a thrilling couple of days last weekend. While many will harp on them for not bolstering their offensive line sooner, the Bengals nabbed three linemen in the draft, including second-round pick Jackson Carman.
With several mid- to late-round additions that felt undervalued, the Bengals may have landed the steal of the draft in fourth-round pick OT D’Ante Smith from East Carolina University.
Smith was the second of the three linemen taken, and his dynamic skill set may have been lost as he opted out the last season of his collegiate career. Smith’s weight plummeted before opting out.
With multiple quarantines during the summer of 2020, according to Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson,
Smith started the team’s opener at 283 pounds. A 6-foot-5, 283-pound offensive lineman is not the ideal size, and it was clear Smith lacked the strength. However, what was also obvious is that the talent and upside were there.
“His body just wasn’t ready. He had three close contacts, but never got COVID. I can see how he lost weight. Not being able to go to the dining hall or the training table. Not having access to regular workouts. You wish he had 2020 tape. There was 2019 tape, but only that one game from last year and he wasn’t ready,” Bengals scout Andrew Johnson told Hobson.
Smith was a preseason All-American Athletic Conference first-team member.
He had the potential to be one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the conference. That said, Smith did weigh in over 300 pounds at his Pro Day which is a positive. For reference, Jonah Williams is the same height and around 305.
With the Bengals having signed Riley Reiff and already having Williams on top of adding second-round pick Carman, Smith may not be asked to do much as a rookie, but his time, especially considering the Bengals offensive line, will come at some point.
“He’s a good kid. He’s got a big, bubbly smile. He’s not immature. He’s got so much upside. The Senior Bowl was big for him. That’s an example of a guy that didn’t get down and made the most of opportunity,” Johnson ended with.
This little note from Johnson also gives some hope that Smith will be an excellent fit on this and has that long-term upside everyone looks for in a prospect.