Colts: Is Devonta Smith-Marvin Harrison comparison for real?

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Indianapolis Colts Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison has been seeing his name show up in headlines quite frequently this draft cycle, as he is being cited as a reason that Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith could still be picked high in the first round and star in the league despite his frame.

Smith set off alarms in the draft community when the Heisman Trophy winner weighed in at just 166 pounds.

Not only is that extremely skinny for an NFL wide receiver, full-stop, it’s almost unprecedented when it comes to a potential first-round pick.

Only 14 wide receivers lighter than 170 pounds have been drafted since 1998, and none became a star.

Harrison, a former first-rounder out of Syracuse, gives Smith hope, however.

The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time First-Team All-Pro nominee completely dominated the early 2000s to the tune of 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns despite a slight frame that never normally tipped the scales at anything above 185 or 190 pounds.

Does Harrison’s success mean that Smith will go down the same path? Not necessarily, as Harrison hit the ground running in the pros instantly.

Devonta Smith is not as good as Colts legend Marvin Harrison.

Harrison was a much faster player than Smith, as the former college track man made his living in the pros as a vertical field-stretcher before Peyton Manning came along. Without that elite speed that can offset the slight frame, Smith doesn’t appear to be as good as Harrison out of the gate despite his many positive traits.

While Smith is one of the best route-runners the draft has seen in years, he also comes up short in the hands department. While he has absolutely no issues with drops, Harrison’s hands are easily in the top three pairs all-time considering all of the difficult catches he helped make, and that trait helped him overcome a very slight frame.

Even though Harrison was very skinny by NFL receiver standards, he was listed at anywhere from 175 to 190 over the course of his career. That’s skinny, yes, but it isn’t 166 pounds skinny either. Smith is a very unique prospect given his uncommonly frail frame, while Harrison just happened to be skinnier than most top prospects.

A better comparison for Smith might be Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, who has become a league-leader and Pro Bowler despite the fact he has a slight frame and lacks elite speed. Comparing him to No. 88 before he’s even played a down of NFL football smells like Smith fans trying to pump up their guy.