The 2021 NFL Draft wasn’t just rough for teams to scout. It was a tough situation for some players to put their best foot forward ahead of the biggest job interview of their lives.
That situation was especially hard for Cincinnati Bengals rookie offensive tackle D’Ante Smith. He had a tough time staying at his playing weight from the previous years due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and his 2020 season may as well have been spent as a year off football due to it.
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com does have a positive update regarding the fourth round selection:
Fourth-round tackle D’Ante Smith of East Carolina continues to put on weight and is about 311 pounds. That’s after being 283 pounds for the Pirates’ opener and in the mid-290s at the Senior Bowl. They love that because his 6-5 frame with 36-inch arms has plenty to fill out.
The fact that he is already conquering his weight issue is a very good sign that Smith is taking this opportunity very seriously as a pro. Of course, it isn’t just a matter of him getting up to a certain weight and then all of the sudden he will be starting in the offensive line.
Smith probably won’t be competing immediately for a starting or even direct backup position on Cincinnati’s roster in 2021. That wasn’t the point of taking him in the draft for the Bengals, though. Smith is a player who could pay dividends in the coming seasons provided he is able to harness some of his potential with his great size and weight combinations.
Taking a player like Smith in the fourth round could potentially mean the Bengals added a future starter on their offensive line. The only downside is they had to be patient to get it. That is why having a guy like Riley Reiff to start at right tackle for at least 2021 was such a huge signing. It gave this team the chance to take the potentially better player over a better player right now.
Hopefully this is all a sign that Smith is doing everything right on the path to potentially filling a starting job or being a valuable depth player down the road for Cincinnati.