Are the LA Rams looking to draft a returner this year? That may be the case, as they met with Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette during the pre-draft process, according to Justin Melo of The Draft Network. Smith-Marsette spent four seasons as a receiver at Iowa, but he showed his greatest value as an exciting return man on special teams.
#Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette will bring exciting vertical skills to the next level, while also serving as an electric KR/PR. He'll be a good pro— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) March 9, 2021
Smith-Marsette has met/will meet virtually w/ #Saints, #Rams, #Jets, #Jaguars, #Bengals, #Raiders, #Washington & #Bills to name a few
Smith-Marsette’s most valuable season came as a junior in 2019, when he caught 44 passes for 722 yards and five touchdowns, with 11 carries for 108 yards and three more scores. He also returned 17 kickoffs for 503 yards and two touchdowns.
That’s a clever way to get into the end zone 10 times.
As a senior, Iowa only played in eight games due to the pandemic and Smith-Marsette had 25 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns in seven games prior to injuring himself on a “backflip touchdown.” Here’s what ProFootballNetwork had to say about his athletic profile:
Creativity, speed, explosion, and versatility. These are the things that Ihmir Smith-Marsette brings to the 2021 NFL Draft. Although I couldn’t find a verified 40-yard dash time for the speedster, it isn’t out of the realms of possibility that he runs in the 4.4-second range at Iowa’s Pro Day. Bottom line, Smith-Marsette is not just fast, but his speed is explosive.
This perhaps goes back to his days as a high school hurdler. His explosion off the line of scrimmage is reminiscent to a sprinter exploding out of his blocks. His speed makes him a deep threat while his explosion helps him win on shorter pass plays. The defensive back has to prepare like he will burn him downfield. That allows Smith-Marsette to showcase great agility and footwork to work out-routes or comeback towards the quarterback.
The speed, explosion, and agility, make him a dangerous threat as a kick returner. He can easily make men miss in the open field and breakaway for big gains. This could be his biggest asset as it pertains to his NFL Draft stock in a deep wide receiver class. He is going to offer a team incredible value.
The Rams could be looking to add speed to the receiver position, as well as an upgrade over Nsimba Webster as the kick and/or punt returner. Webster had 16 kickoff returns for 347 yards last season, while Raymond Calais had seven for 152; that’s a 21.7 average for both players. Smith-Marsette, a probable day three pick, could find a role on an NFL team immediately thanks to his skills as a kickoff returner. Whether he develops as a receiver is a question that nobody can answer.
But the Rams are at least be asking him the questions.