When it comes to wide receivers in college football this year, there isn’t a better one playing right now than Alabama’s DeVonta Smith.
That’s according to Pro Football Focus, who also pointed out his quarterback, Mac Jones, is “probably the best quarterback in college football, performance-wise to this point.”
Anthony Treash of PFF, who joined me on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 this week, broke down the Tide’s Smith and Jones.
The knocks on Smith, who has caught 56 passes for 759 yards and eight scores, is his lack of speed and his size. Treash calls those critiques “overrated.”
“He is the clear-cut best wide receiver in college football,” Treash wrote recently. “He does just about everything at the position at a high level — from his release package to his route running to his ball skills. All of that has helped him earn a 93.4 receiving grade this season. That’s the best in the FBS by a considerable margin.”
Add to that he has dropped just 2.2 percent of his catchable targets, per PFF, since 2018 and he tops the list of college football receivers heading into Week 10 of the season.
The list doesn’t include Jaylen Waddle, who had season-ending surgery on his ankle earlier this season.
“That duo is in the conversation of best I’ve ever seen at the collegiate level,” Treash said of Smith and Waddle. "I would go as far as to say I’d rather have Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith than (former Alabama receivers) Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy.
“When you put those four together like they did last year, that’s the best personnel package I’ve ever seen and I think I will ever see at the college level.”
Smith leads PFF’s list of top 25 receivers in the country with a 92.4 grade, which is almost two points higher than Purdue’s Rondale Moore.
“He does everything extremely well from his route running to his ball skills,” Treash said. “He has done everything you could possibly want from the wide receiver position.”
Jones is PFF’s highest-rated quarterback in the nation. Treash points out Jones has been one of the better deep-ball passers. He leads the SEC with 15 big-time throws on targets of 20-plus yards downfield with only one turnover-worthy play on those throws.
“Solely on this year and not NFL future, he is probably the best quarterback in college football, performance-wise up to this point,” Treash said.
“(Clemson’s) Trevor Lawrence has been Trevor Lawrence. (Ohio State’s) Justin Fields has been Justin Fields, but Mac Jones - I know he has a great supporting cast at Alabama - has been pin-point accurate downfield. His ball placement has been superb. His lowest graded game this year has been an 82.6 That would be most quarterbacks best grade of the year.”
Jones already has thrown for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns on 139-of-177 passing.
“Mac Jones has been nothing short of exceptional,” he said.
His 93.8 makes him the highest-graded quarterback in the country ahead of, in order, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.