From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, a scouting report Texas A&M Ainias Smith.

#0 AINIAS SMITH/WR TEXAS A&M – 5-9, 190 POUNDS. (Grad. Student)


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Ainias Smith 5093/190 8 1/2″ 29″ 70 1/2″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
N/A N/A 21


– Great explosiveness out of his breaks
– Quick feet and loose hips to change direction in a hurry
– Shows a lot of snap and misdirect at the top of routes
– Accelerates quickly when he has the ball in his hands
– Able to disguise his route with smooth pacing and fluidity
– High-level vision and awareness when he has the ball
– Very good at obtaining yards after the catch due to his slipperiness and strength
– Difficult to bring down upon first contact and breaks tackles consistently
– Concentration and ball skills are high-level; rarely drops a pass
– Able to go up and make tough, contested catches over bigger guys
– Really good play strength for a guy his size
– Excellent speed, twitchiness, and vision as a punt & kick returner
– Can be utilized as a running back because of his traits (strength, elusiveness, vision)


– His size and athletic limitations make him scheme-specific to slot receiver
– Doesn’t create as much separation on his routes for a guy with such fast feet
– Catch radius window is limited with lack of height and wingspan
– Bigger defensive backs can disrupt contested catches
– Struggles against press coverage to create separation
– Can drift on routes at times
– Knocked off his spot which slows him down during the route
– Didn’t look like he had the same long speed or burst in 2023 due to leg injury from 2022


Born 5/31/2001 (22 years old)
– 1,281 snaps (70 percent slot, 23 percent boundary)
– 37 career starts
– In 2023, he had 53 catches, 795 yds. (15.0 avg.), 2 TDs, 1 drop, 68 percent reception rate, and a 75 percent slot usage rate
– Ranked 2nd in college football in punt return yds. p/attempt with at least 20 returns
– 36 consecutive games with a reception
– Team captain since 2021
– 2023 first-team All-SEC (All-Purpose/Return Specialist)
– Missed most of the 2022 season with a fracture in his right leg
– Three-star HS recruit in 2019 per 247Sports
– Younger brother of former NFL DB Maurice Smith


Ainias Smith is a slot receiver out of Texas A&M who, when he has the ball in his hands, is an electric playmaker who aligns all over the formation. He is an experienced and nuanced route-runner who primarily wins with burst and quickness off the line and out of his breaks. He has very natural hands to grab passes away from his body and isn’t afraid to go over the middle of the field. Smith is best working the short-to-intermediate areas of the field on slant routes, shallow crossers, whip routes and other various zone beaters. He’s not a burner down the field, but he has enough speed to keep defenses honest.

He is No. 0 in all of the following clips:

A majority of his touches came from schemed looks or in the intermediate areas. His vision and YAC ability are among the best in this draft class. Seriously, watch the twitchiness and wiggle in him after he catches the ball. Chris Berman would be having a field day with sound bites watching Smith.

He is a dynamic athlete with the football in his hands with the ability to take it the distance on every touch, and is a true home-run threat from any area of the field. It was very evident that he didn’t have the same burst or speed this past season because of his leg injury in 2022, but during the last 4-5 games, you could see it starting to really come back. What he lacks in wingspan and catch radius, he makes up for with vice grips for hands and toughness to combat hand fighting. Concentration among chaos is his hallmark card in regard to high-pointing the ball and yards after catch. Smith is very willing to take a hit and doesn’t shy away from contact. He rarely drops a ball (1 drop this year), and to be honest, it’s surprising at times how well he can snatch the ball out of the air for a guy his size.

Another thing I really like about Smith is his willingness to block with maximum effort for a smaller guy. He will seek out guys to initiate contact and seal defenders well as long as they don’t have a significant size advantage over him. Buckle up that chinstrap for these clips (He is #0 in the first clip and #17 in the second clip):

My favorite thing about Smith, though, is his return ability, where all of his strengths are kicked into high gear. He will be a day-one contributor on special teams with a chance to rank near the top of the NFL in return yards early in his career. He’s extremely explosive and twitchy, can change directions on a dime, anticipates angles very well, and is really hard to bring down. With 585 kick and punt returns in his 5-year career, he has a lot of experience to bring to the table, but he thrives best as a punt returner. He ranked in the top 3 in all of college football in yards per attempt as a punt returner and top 10 as a kick returner.

The concerns and limitations of a slot receiver his size make him limited to a specific role at the NFL level. He doesn’t have the size to beat press coverage, and it shows on film. He lets cornerbacks get physical with him at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t have the strength or technique to fight through them consistently. He especially struggled with bigger defensive backs this past year from teams like Alabama, Auburn, and Miami (FL) where their bigger cornerbacks were physical with him and threw him off his route stem.


Smith is a prototypical slot receiver, and he is only limited by his size and technique in dealing with press coverage. He isn’t elite at anything except as a returner, but he has the quickness, YAC ability, and catch-point toughness to contribute in the NFL right away. He will never be the focal point of an offense, but he is a chess piece that can be utilized in many different ways with an inventive offensive coordinator. Concerns remain about medicals checking out (fractured leg in 2022), overall strength, and ability to separate against bigger, tougher defensive backs.

There is a logical comparison to a former Texas A&M player in Christian Kirk, but I also see a lot of traits similar to Skyy Moore in Smith as a route runner, plus the general toughness he displays. Both are players who have clearly defined roles in the NFL but could contribute right away in multiple ways to a team. Smith’s recent injury may give caution to teams and push down his draft stock, but he will probably come in as a return specialist right away to get on the field and work his way toward being a solid contributor to an offense as a slot receiver.

Projection: Day 3
Depot Draft Grade: 7.4 – Rotational Player (Fourth Round)
Games Watched: at Miami (2023), vs Alabama (2023), vs South Carolina (2021), at LSU (2021)


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