After losing their top two tight ends in free agency, the Seattle Seahawks are left without depth at the position. Third year player Nick Vannett was scarcely used in his first two seasons, but as of now finds himself the starter. Jimmy Graham is a unique talent and difficult to replace without using a high selection of Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, however Luke Willson’s skill set can be replicated by a couple tight ends on the draft’s final day.
Durham Smythe’s impact on Notre Dame’s offense was almost exclusively in the running game. In four seasons with the Fighting Irish, Smythe registered just 28 catches. The small sample size we do have from Smythe’s college career, along with a solid showing at the Scouting Combine relative to Seattle’s thresholds, could be reason to believe he could offer a team good value on the draft’s final day.
Smythe’s athletic ability compared to the tight end position as a whole is nothing too impressive, however he did post the highest short shuttle among tight ends in Indianapolis, just like Vannett in 2016. Athleticism has never been a deal-breaker for the Seahawks at tight end and players with similar athletic profiles have succeeded at tight end in the NFL.
However Smythe does have the ability to move laterally to reach his man on outside runs and can get to the second level of a defense with good agility and strength.
While Smythe wasn’t a prolific receiver by any means in college, he was used in a variety of ways. Smythe caught passes out of the slot, split out wide and after lining up in-line in a three-point stance, mostly running routes to the short and intermediate levels of the field. Lacking fluidity at the top of his routes, Smythe doesn’t separate with any sort of consistency against linebackers or safeties.
Smythe makes up for his lack of separation with soft, strong hands at the catch point. He has a good ability to corral balls away from his body and should be a reliable pass-catcher in the NFL as a second tight end.
Where Smythe excels is as a blocker and his skill set in the running game should see him playing at the next level for a long time. As an in-line tight end, Smythe is a tough, competitive blocker working against bigger, stronger defensive linemen.
Here the run is unsuccessful because of interior pressure, but Smythe does a good job steering the defender wide.
Smythe is technically sound, landing the initial blow with consistency and accuracy. He gives up weight and functional strength against defensive linemen but is able to steer them wide or seal them out consistently.
Overall, Smythe is a reliable blocker in the running game able to execute any assignment asked of him. As a pass catcher, he displayed enough natural ability to be a threat in short-yardage situations and not serve as a tell for the defense. Smythe won’t ever be a prolific pass-catching tight end, but he will give a team reliable snaps as a second tight end and offer good value on the third day of the draft.