Ito Smith is a small, quick running back in the 2018 NFL Draft class that catches the ball well out of the backfield and wins with his ability to find running lanes.
The major concern for Ito Smith is obviously going to be his size. It limits many areas of his game where he could otherwise excel. At the very least, Ito Smith is probably never going to have an opportunity to be a full time back, based strictly on his size. There are small backs that succeed and are able to carry greater workloads in the NFL, but they are few and far between.
Ito Smith’s best asset is his vision. He has a knack for finding running lanes where there don’t appear to be any, and his small frame helps him get through smaller holes with ease. He runs with patience and does an excellent job of letting his blocks set up in front of them. He follows closely in pulling guards hip pocket and knows exactly when to break away from his linemen and get up field. Despite Ito Smith’s patience and agile running style, he never seems to be caught dancing too much behind the line of scrimmage. He is decisive with the football and attacks weaknesses in the defense with the ball in his hands.
Laterally, Ito Smith is very quick and has good lateral agility. He changes directions well and uses his agility to pick his way through traffic at the line of scrimmage and make good cuts up field on outside runs. His ability to change directions behind the line of scrimmage complements his vision and anticipation very well and help him make the most of what the defense offers him.
Strangely, despite Ito Smith’s good change of direction ability, it doesn’t always translate into elusiveness in the open field. He doesn’t hide his cuts well and, while his cuts are sudden, they don’t always fool the defender. He succeeds in making the most of his blocking and using his agility to navigate through the defense, but he doesn’t always show the ability to consistently beat defenders with his elusiveness.
Smith catches the ball out of the backfield well. He lets the ball get into his body too often, but it doesn’t result in many drops, so it isn’t a significant concern. He isn’t an experienced or polished route runner and probably projects as more of a check down option until he starts to learn the nuances of the route tree.
Ito Smith probably projects as a change of pace back early in his career, but he has upside to be a good receiver out of the backfield and could be more elusive at the next level if he works on translating his agility and suddenness into the ability to make quality moves on the defender. His vision is a legitimate asset and should help him in all facets of the game.