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March 21, 2017

Here are all of Torrey Smith's targets in 2016, with analysis

Eagles NFL

On Monday, we took a look at all of Alshon Jeffery's targets in 2016. Today we'll look at the Philadelphia Eagles' other free agent wide receiver acquisition, Torrey Smith.

In Smith's first four years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, he averaged 53 catches, 898 yards, and 7.5 TDs per season. In 2016 with the San Francisco 49ers, he had 20 catches for 267 yards and 3 TDs. It's not just Smith's numbers that were bad. His game film in 2016, if we're going to be blunt, is horrendous. A look:


• In the first few bullet points, we'll make all the appropriate excuses. To begin, we'll note that Smith's quarterbacks a season ago were even worse than I thought they were. Blaine Gabbert was especially bad, as the video above shows. With better quarterback play, Smith's numbers would have been better.

• We'll also quickly note that many of Smith's targets were balls purposely thrown away by the quarterback. On the season, Smith had just 20 catches on 49 targets, but as the video shows, there were about a half dozen targets credited to Smith that were throwaways, which is an abnormal amount.

• If we're going to find one positive from the video, it's that Smith does still have some deep speed. He beat the Panthers for a deep TD, and there were occasions in which he had his man clearly beaten (like when he beat the Cowboys' Morris Claiborne or the Bills' Ronald Darby), but the quarterback simply made a bad throw.

• OK, now the bad. First, by my count, Smith had seven drops, and again, only 20 catches. That means that he dropped seven of just 27 catches balls or 25.9 percent. Somehow, that's worse than any of the Eagles' receivers were a year ago. I even forgave some of the close ones, as in, I didn't count them. The drop at the 6:10 mark against the Cardinals was a benchable offense.

• The complete lack of yards after the catch is alarming. I have several notes just on YAC:

  1. He did not have a single broken tackle on the entire season.
  2. On the season, he had 58 total yards after the catch. That's an average of 2.9 yards after the catch. 25 of his yards after catch were on a play in which the Bills didn't cover him at all, and he ran in for an easy TD. Take out that one long play, and he has 33 yards after the catch on 19 catches, or an average of 1.7 yards after the catch.
  3. At the 5:15 mark against the Saints, I don't know how he doesn't pick up that first down.
  4. At the 2:12 mark, he runs out of bounds a few yards short of the sticks on 3rd and 15. He's probably not going to make it if he tries, but make the defense finish the play. Don't just concede the punt.

• He did not adjust well to off-target balls.

• Contested catches do not appear to be a strength.

• In Howie Roseman's post-free agency press conference, he spoke about Smith's size and physical traits.

"I think the other thing with Torrey that people don't realize is he's a big guy," said Roseman. "People when they think of just vertical threats, guys who can take the top off, they think of smaller guys, but he's a physically tough guy, as well, and I think when people see him out there and how he plays and that kind of edge, you see it over a period of time, led the league in pass interference yards, I think that's the other thing when you talk about Torrey to bring into the equation."

None of that showed up in Smith's 2016 tape. In fact, it was the exact opposite. One play that is somewhat telling to me is the red zone slant he ran against the Dolphins at the 8:00 mark. Smith gets out-muscled by Byron Maxwell, never gets his shoulders square to the quarterback, and the ball is easily batted away. That is not physical wide receiver play.

Conclusion: Smith's stats in 2016 were indicative of a bad season. After watching his games, however, his play was even worse than I would have thought. The 49ers' offense had the 31st ranked defense in the NFL a season ago, and were dead last in passing offense. Chip Kelly's stale offensive scheme was fooling nobody, and the Niners' quarterbacks stunk. So there were certainly some things working against Smith.

That said, that excuse only goes so far. Smith was fifth on his team in receiving yards, and his play, regardless of the players around him, was bad. There's an argument to be made that Nelson Agholor was better last season.

The Eagles brought in Smith hoping that he would be more like the player he was in Baltimore than the one he was in San Francisco. Smith himself has even (sort of) acknowledged that he was bad last season, and seems confident he'll be better.

It has to be a lot better than what he showed in 2016.

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