The search for a tight end in the 2019 NFL Draft continues this week, as we profile Stanford Junior Kaden Smith. Smith was a two year contributor at Stanford, and though he didn't produce eye-popping numbers, he has garnered some draft hype as of late.
Many respected draft analysts have Smith in their top five tight ends, which puts him firmly in the Cowboys' sights this Spring. The question will likely become if he is worth of the 58th overall selection, and if the Cowboys value his skillset enough to pull that trigger.
As of right now Kaden Smith is TE4 on my board, behind Iowa's TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant as well as Alabama's Irv Smith Jr.
At 6'5″ and 250 pounds, and still with a rather impressive athletic profile, Smith has some of the ideal traits for a tight end in the NFL. The Junior tight end had 47 catches for 635 yards and 2 touchdowns last season, and considering the offensive play style of Stanford, these numbers are solid.
In terms of his skillset, Kaden Smith fits the “seam buster” profile the Cowboys could be looking for. He is at his best pushing routes vertically and finding the soft spot in the zone. I'm not saying he's Jason Witten in his ability to find those soft spots, but when Smith is winning in the pass game its usually because of his understanding of the opponent's zone defense. Not because he burned someone with his speed or defeated a defender which technically-sound route running.
As a run blocker, Kaden Smith needs some developing, but there is reason for optimism. He's not overly powerful as a blocker, but does well working with tackles on double teams. He clearly understands the blocking scheme he's being asked to execute and uses body positioning to his advantage. This is especially useful to compensate for his lack of power and drive off the line of scrimmage.
He's going to need work in his technique, specifically his footwork and base, but the upside as a blocker is there. Still, if you're drafting Kaden Smith early on, it's not because you want an excellent run blocker. It's because you're looking for production from your tight end in the passing game.
His Fit With The Cowboys
Kaden Smith just looks like a Dallas Cowboys tight end, doesn't he?
Like Irv Smith, Kaden Smith would provide the Cowboys immediate TE1 potential in the second round. He obviously needs to improve in certain areas – such as high pointing the ball more consistently and improving the nuance of his route running – but what he is working with now is impressive nonetheless.
No, Kaden Smith isn't the medicine which cures all the Cowboys passing game woes from a year ago, but he could be a valuable piece to the puzzle which should help Dak Prescott play beyond what his ceiling may seem to be at this point.