Vyncint Smith has a golden opportunity to become a key piece for the New York Jets offense.
With depth lacking at wide receiver, Adam Gase and the Jets will be looking for someone to emerge from a pack of hungry, unheralded names.
Could that someone be Vyncint Smith?
Signed by the Jets off the Texans practice squad on September 23 and debuting in the team’s Week 5 trip to Philadelphia, Smith was seldom involved in the offense early on but showed flashes of potential late in the season.
Over his first seven games with the Jets, Smith caught only 4-of-11 targets for 35 yards and two first downs, running a mere 53 routes (7.6 per game).
Smith started to show some intriguing big-play potential afterward. From Weeks 12-17, he hauled in 13-of-20 targets for 190 yards and nine first downs. He ran 117 routes over that span (19.5).
Gase gradually began getting Smith more involved in the offense as his play improved. Over the Jets’ final four games, Smith set new season-highs in routes run each week, logging totals of 17, 22, 26, and 33, respectively, from Weeks 14-17. Smith was on the field for 71.0% of Sam Darnold’s 138 dropbacks over that span.
Turning 24 years old on June 9 as he heads into his third NFL season, there absolutely could be some untapped potential still within the German-born alum of Limestone College.
Let’s take a look at some glimpses of upside that Smith showcased later in the season.
22-yard catch vs. Raiders
Smith could become dangerous in the classic “gadget guy” role. Many of his best moments came when Gase utilized him in creative ways, simplifying the game and allowing him to get the most out of his speed.
Here, Smith motions across the formation and receives a golden opportunity as he is to run an angle route against off-man coverage with no safety or linebacker covering the middle.
Smith makes a sharp break and wins over the middle. Darnold delivers a good throw off of play action. Great design by Gase of putting Smith in a highly favorable position.
37-yard catch vs. Dolphins
Smith’s best attribute to date has certainly been speed. He ran a 4.36 in the forty (pro day) and looks every bit as fast when he has the ball on his hands. Smith averaged 5.9 yards after catch per reception in 2019, good enough for the 87th percentile among qualified wide receivers.
This clutch grab against Miami was certainly Smith’s most memorable moment of the year. He shows off that blazing speed and after-the-catch ability – but also some excellent intelligence as well, which inspires hope that he could have the all-around package of tools necessary to become a complete wide receiver.