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2023 NFL Draft preview: Scouting report on South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith

Can the SEC proven corner be the answer across from Tariq Woolen?

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Throughout the Seattle Seahawks offseason we’ve heavily covered the cornerbacks in this year’s NFL Draft class. In this article we are going to review South Carolina’s Cam Smith, one of the top corners in all of college football.

Games watched - 2021 Texas A&M, Florida - 2022 Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky

Cornerback scouting reports - Joey Porter Jr., Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Kelee Ringo, Julius Brents

Relative Athletic Score (RAS)


  • Biggest strength - Very good (6) ball skills - Smith tracks the ball like a receiver, understanding when to get his head around. Additionally, he has the hands and body control to make interceptions near the line of scrimmage.
  • Smith is able to read and react to what is happening in front of him. He plays with natural instincts, reading screens quickly and coming up field to make a play on them. When in zone coverage or off man he perfectly reads the route of the receiver and eyes of the quarterback. This allows him to break off his pedal and come up to make a play at the catch point.
  • His good (6) play speed is extremely prevalent when triggering up field as it is almost very good (7) in short areas.
  • In off man coverage, Smith is very patient, he understands his leverage and where his help defenders are.
  • When in off man and zone his route recognition is very prevalent. He does not get antsy, staying true to his technique and allowing the receiver to show where they are going before he moves. He stays light on his toes in these situations and maintains a good base width at all times.
  • Smith is more than comfortable in the slot and has the traits necessary to play slot in the NFL if needed.
  • In press man, Smith plays with good technique. His feet are quiet off of the line, staying on the balls of his toes and he does not replace them quickly. Smith’s hips are fluid which allows him to get in and out of his press without much problem. He does use his hands and body to try and dictate the direction of the route which does help him stay sticky during the route.
  • In zone coverage, Smith looks more than comfortable. He keeps his eyes on the quarterback at all times no matter the level he is playing at.
  • In zone he was far better in Cover 3 zone when taking a deep third. He stayed on the balls of his toes with a quick and patient pedal out of his stance.
  • Smith is a mentally tough corner who will play with his mouth guard out and is willing to travel anywhere with a team’s opposing number one receiver. He did this for South Carolina when they played Tennessee in 2022, as he traveled inside and outside with Jalin Hyatt.
  • Smith does a good job of making open field tackles and preventing receivers from picking up significant yards after the reception, often bringing them down right at the catch point. When he triggers up field, he is able to corral the receiver down in the open field even if they try to juke him immediately after the catch.
  • He is more than interested in supporting the run game defense.


  • Biggest weakness - Grabby nature - There are many instances in where he leans too much on the receiver, and grabs at the stem which results in a high rate of penalties. It should be noted though that this is not a result of him being a panicky corner, rather it is just his play style.
  • He does play a bit passively with his hands in the first two yards of the route before he gets both of his hands on the receiver.
  • In both press and off man coverage he is a bit susceptible to double moves which cause him to get turned around.
  • He was not often tasked with playing cloud or hook zones but when he was, he did overflow to some spots and his feet crossed when moving from area to area.
  • Smith does not have fantastic closing speed. If a receiver is able to beat him vertically it is difficult for him to reduce the space between them.

Floor/ceiling - Smith’s combination of very good ball skills, good FBI (football intelligence), coverage technique and transitions give him the ceiling of a borderline high-end starter. However, his lack of true closing speed and grabbiness give him the floor of a high-end backup who can play inside and outside.

Grade - 6.7 - 3 down starter (first day of second season) - mid first

Grade explanation - I do not see Cam Smith as a cornerback with a super high-end ceiling for reasons listed above. However, Smith is very sound and trustworthy in coverage. He is the type of corner you can have out there that you feel confident in, but he’s not going to be a guy who can shut down an NFL team’s opposing number one receiver, at least early in his career.

Schematic fit - Cam Smith can play in any defensive scheme at the NFL level. He is best suited for a zone coverage scheme where he can read and react to what is happening in front of him using his good football intelligence. If needed to he can play in a man coverage scheme as well in either press or off, but I do think he is slightly better suited for a zone scheme. Smith can be used both inside and outside.

Player highlights