D’Ante Smith has been something of an enigma.
The East Carolina University product came to the Cincinnati Bengals as a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was seen as a project at the time with high upside.
What should we expect of Smith in Year 3?
- Height: 6’5”
- Weight: 309
- Age: 25
- College: East Carolina
- Hometown: Augusta, GA
- Experience: 2 years
Smith is in the second year of his rookie contract and has a salary cap charge this year of $1,064,836. Cutting Smith now would save $940,000 against the cap, per Over The Cap.
Smith played in two games, with one start, in his rookie season and only got into one regular-season game last year before seeing limited action in the playoffs. But maybe this is the year he finally turns the corner.
Given the struggles of Jackson Carman this summer, Smith has stepped up with an impressive camp and is probably the swing tackle right now. In the preseason opener against the Packers, Smith led all Bengals in snaps and ranked sixth in pass-block grade (81.2), according to Pro Football Focus.
“I was happy with the start of the preseason,” Smith said recently. “I’ve grown as a player mentally and physically, spiritually. As a player, there are so many things I’ve learned. Every year, you got to add to that toolbox. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my abilities and believe there will be a breakthrough.”
For what it’s worth, Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer included Smith in his training camp awards.
Here are some unofficial Bengals training camp awards— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 28, 2023
MVP: Joe Burrow. This summer was a reminder of a franchise QB’s value
MVP (non-Burrow): Trey Hendrickson
OPOY: Ja’Marr Chase
OPOY (non-starter): Trenton Irwin, D’Ante Smith
DPOY (non-starter): ADG…
More recently, Smith has spent most of his time at right tackle backing up Jonah Williams, with Carman working primarily on the left side behind free-agent acquisition Orlando Brown Jr. The pending return of right tackle La’el Collins, however, could see Smith ending up as the odd-man-out.
Whatever happens, Smith’s progress this summer should guarantee him a spot on somebody’s roster this season or, at the very least, earn him a position on Cincinnati’s practice squad.
Roster Odds: 60%
Smith is still by no means a lock to make the roster, but it does seem like the Bengals have seen enough to give him more time to develop and potentially be a backup at both tackle spots.