The NFL is constantly on the lookout for talented cover corners with the upside to play press-man coverage. And while all eyes are on the talented Georgia and Alabama secondaries, South Carolina’s Cam Smith appears poised to throw his hat into the ring as a potential top prospect at the position.
One of the side effects of the offensive explosion is that we have been getting some truly excellent cornerbacks coming out of college as well.
The New York Giants could find themselves in need of a press-man corner to play opposite Adoree Jackson in 2023 (and beyond). Cam Smith is probably a player worth watching this season.
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (9)
Height: 6-foot (listed)
Weight: 185 (listed)
Games Played: 11
Tackles: 41 (31 solo, 10 assist)
Tackles For a Loss: 2.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 11
- Quick feet and fluid hips.
- Good short-area quickness.
- Good body control and situational awareness.
- Tracks the ball well downfield and attacks the catch point.
- Scheme versatile, able to play in Man or Zone coverages.
- Able to play outside or slot corner.
- Very physical with great competitive toughness.
- Willing run defender, quick downhill trigger.
- Lacks elite size and length
- Questions about long speed
- Can cross the line from physical to “grabby”
- Little experience as a blitzer
South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith certainly shares some traits with fellow Gamecocks Jaycee Horn and Stephon Gilmore. Like Horn and Gilmore, Smith is a very physical and aggressive cornerback who never shies away from contact. He appears comfortable in man coverage and has the physical tools to execute those coverage techniques. Likewise, he is a very confident corner who’s willing to shadow receivers and even travel into the slot.
Smith features a strong jam to disrupt receivers early in their route. He also has the quick feet and fluid hips to get in receivers’ hip pockets and stay in phase throughout the route. He also appears to have adequate size and length for the position at the NFL level, with his listed 6-foot, 187-pound frame being only marginally smaller than Gilmore’s 6-foot, 190-pound Combine measurements.
He has good situational awareness in space, not only using the sideline to his advantage in man coverage, but also understanding route concepts to avoid schemed traffic. Smith is a capable zone defender, communicating well with his teammates and does a good job of picking up and passing off receivers while maintaining his coverage discipline. Smith does a good job of attacking the ball at the catch point, coming away with 11 passes defensed in 11 games. He also tracks the ball well down the field.
Smith is also a very capable run defender. He features a quick downhill trigger and is willing to take on blocks as well as make tackles on ball carriers. He also gives strong effort in pursuit and doesn’t make “business decisions” when the play comes his way.
While Smith is a good run defending corner with 2.5 tackles for a loss to his credit last year, his ability as a blitzer is unknown. His aggression playing downhill is a positive sign, but there’s little tape on him as a pass rusher.
What can he improve for 2022?
Smith’s aggression can also get him in trouble at times as well. He will need to work on further refining, and gaining discipline in, his hand usage to avoid penalties at the NFL level. Smith’s physicality and willingness to jam receivers can translate into grabbing receivers down the field. While he can get away with more physical play at the collegiate level, it will be called as pass interference in the NFL.
And where both Jaycee Horn and Stehon Gilmore are elite athletes at the CB position, there are some questions about Smith’s long speed. He was able to carry receivers vertically on tape, but his recovery and pursuit speed appeared merely average. Showing improved recovery speed in 2022 will go a long way toward alleviating those concerns.
All in all, Smith has both a solid foundation and a high ceiling if he takes a step forward in 2022 as a red-shirt junior.
One game to watch
South Carolina’s November 19th game against Tennessee might seem like a strange one to circle with match-ups against Georgia, Clemson, and even Florida on the schedule. But it’s the presence of Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman who makes this game interesting. Tillman had a breakout 2021 campaign that saw him rack up 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 64 receptions. His size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and athleticism make him a tough match-up and the kind of receiver Smith will see on a weekly basis at the NFL level.