With the 12th pick in the 3rd round (75th overall) the 49ers select defensive back Reggie Smith out of Oklahoma.
Blessed with versatility and natural talent, Reggie Smith became the veteran leader of the Sooners’ secondary as a sophomore.
After he began his Oklahoma career as the starting strong safety in just his third collegiate game, earning Freshman All-American honors, Smith was well-traveled in the secondary in 2005. He started that season at “field” cornerback, shifted to “boundary” cornerback for the third game and spent the rest of the year calling defensive signals for the defensive backfield at strong safety.
Smith was also used as the team’s punt returner, as the coaches experimented using him as a wide receiver during his 2006 campaign. The 2007 season brought about yet another change for this talented youngster, as he returned to “field” cornerback for the team’s first 13 games. The shutdown cornerback was shut down for his final college game, missing the 2008 Fiesta Bowl due to a broken toe.
Playing a variety of roles was nothing new for Smith. During his four-year prep career at Santa Fe High School, he competed as a cornerback, running back and wide receiver. He was rated the nation’s fourth-best cornerback by ESPN.com and the best prospect in the Midlands region by Scout.com. Rivals ranked him fifth in the country at cornerback while CollegeFootballNews.com rated him fourth.
The U.S. Army High School All-American selection added USA Today first-team All-American honors as a senior. He was a two-time All-State choice by the Daily Oklahoman, earning Oklahoma Offensive Player of the Year honors from that newspaper as a junior, after leading the team to the Class 6A championship game. A quality student, he attained a 3.4 grade point average.
Smith recorded 63 tackles and intercepted six passes (two returned for touchdowns) as a senior. He also rushed the ball 122 times for 935 yards and nine touchdowns, as he also caught 47 passes for 607 yards and eight scores that season. He registered 73 tackles and nine interceptions while scoring 20 times on offense as a junior. He finished his career with 28 interceptions, as he returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns and even averaged 34 yards per attempt as a punter. An Honor Roll student, Smith also lettered in basketball and track, clocking a personal best 10.8 in the 100-meter dash.
Smith earned national attention during his first year at Oklahoma, starting his final 10 games at strong safety. The Freshman All-American selection delivered 47 tackles (30 solo) with two stops for losses and a fumble recovery. He broke up three passes, picked off two others and averaged 20.9 yards on 18 kickoff returns.
As a sophomore, Smith earned All-Big Twelve Conference first-team defensive accolades and honorable mention on special teams. He started the year at cornerback for three games before moving back to strong safety. He was hampered late in the year by a left knee sprain that he suffered vs. Iowa State. He still ranked sixth on the team with 41 tackles (30 solo), adding 3.5 stops for losses and a fumble recovery.
Smith returned one of three interceptions for a score and deflected eight passes. He saw some action on offense, coming up with a 12-yard catch and handled both return duties, averaging 22.6 yards on 12 kickoff returns and 7.8 yards with a touchdown on 37 punt returns.
Smith earned consensus All-Big Twelve Conference first-team recognition in 2007. He started the team’s first 13 games at “field” cornerback, ranking fourth on the squad with 78 tackles (57 solo). He registered a sack with seven stops for losses, returning a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He knocked down 11 passes and intercepted three others. He returned three kickoffs for 73 yards (24.3-yard average) and averaged 6.8 yards on 30 punt returns.
In 39 games at Oklahoma, Smith started 36 times, with 20 of those starts coming at strong safety, 14 at field cornerback and two at boundary cornerback. He recorded 166 tackles (117 solos) with an eight-yard sack and 12.5 stops for losses of 36 yards. He recovered three fumbles, returning two for a total of 69 yards and a touchdown. He deflected 22 passes and intercepted eight others for 156 yards in returns (19.5-yard average) and a score.
On special teams, Smith returned 33 kickoffs for 721 yards (21.9-yard average) and 67 punts for 490 yards (7.3 avg) and a touchdown. He caught one pass for 12 yards and also amassed 1,448 all-purpose yards, averaging 13.05 yards every time he touched the ball and 37.13 yards per game.
Ranks 16th among Sooner defensive backs with 166 career tackles…His 12.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank eighth among Oklahoma defensive backs…His 22 pass breakups tied Zac Henderson (1974-77) and Terry Ray (1988) for 10th all-time in OU annals…His seven stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2007 tied Derrick Strait (2003), Brandon Shelby (2002) and Roy Williams (1999) for seventh on the school single-season list for defensive backs…Smith’s 61-yard touchdown return of a fumble recovery vs. Miami in 2007 tied Claire Morford (vs. Marquette, 1941) for the third-longest fumble return in school history, topped only by Cory Heinecke (69 vs. Air Force, 2001) and Marlon Wesley (65 vs. San Diego State, 1995)…Averaged 21.85 yards per kickoff return, the sixth-best career average in Oklahoma history behind Joe Wylie (25.67 avg, 1970-72), Antwone Savage (25.46, 1999-02), Brandon Daniels (23.85, 1996-99), Jack Mitchell (22.93, 1946-48) and Buster Rhymes (22.49, 1980-84)…Gained 377 yards on kickoff returns as a freshman in 2005, the fourth-highest season total in school annals, surpassed by Brandon Daniels (508 in 1999), Antwone Savage (448 in 2001) and Greg Pruitt (396 in 1970).
Attended Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) High School, lettering four times in football as a defensive back, wide receiver and running back for head coach Dan Cocannoer…Rated the nation’s fourth-best cornerback by ESPN.com and the best prospect in the Midlands region by Scout.com…Rivals.com ranked him fifth in the country at cornerback while CollegeFootballNews.com rated him fourth…U.S. Army High School All-American choice, adding USA Today first-team All-American honors as a senior…Two-time All-State choice by the Daily Oklahoman, earning Oklahoma Offensive Player of the Year honors from that newspaper as a junior, after leading the team to the Class 6A championship game…Also attained a 3.4 grade point average…Recorded 63 tackles and intercepted six passes (two returned for touchdowns) as a senior…Rushed the ball 122 times for 935 yards and nine touchdowns, as he also caught 47 passes for 607 yards and eight scores that season…Registered 73 tackles and nine interceptions while scoring 20 times on offense as a junior…Finished his career with 28 interceptions, as he returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns and even averaged 34 yards per attempt as a punter…An Honor Roll student…Lettered in basketball and track, clocking a personal best 10.8 in the 100-meter dash.
Positives: Has long legs and arms, solid upper-body muscle tone with good chest thickness and defined thighs and calves…Has the acceleration and range, along with catch-up speed to make plays along the sidelines…Shows the change-of-direction movement skills in long pursuit and the flexibility and agility to easily redirect…Runs his feet well and explodes behind tackles…Has the instincts to locate the ball quickly on the move and will extend himself to make the play…Does not hang his head for long, when beaten…Physical tackler who takes advantage of his size and power to reroute receivers in press coverage…Rarely fooled by the quarterback’s pumps…Stops quickly and has an explosive burst to close on plays in front of him…Has a strong work ethic and is a young leader who will not hesitate to take a teammate to task…Makes good adjustment calls in the secondary and has a good knowledge of the playbook to compete at any position in the defensive backfield…Whether at safety or cornerback, he has the power to play his man physically and the recovery speed to play off the receiver…Looks comfortable using his hands for the press and gets physical near the line of scrimmage, as he is disruptive to receivers running routes in the short area…Might get a bit rangy in his pedal, but compensates by flipping his hips and has better change-of-direction speed than most players his height (takes no wasted steps when he opens his hips)…Can see the big picture and drop back with good depth in the zone, reacting quickly to make plays on the ball and keep everything in front of him…Very alert to finding threats, generating a very quick plant and drive moving forward to make plays on the ball…Shows the range to flip and run on deep routes…Times his leaps well and has the long arms to reach around the receiver to deflect or pick off the pass…Has the burst to get back in a hurry when the deep zone is being attacked…Makes good body adjustments competing for the ball in flight and has the natural hands to cleanly field the ball outside his frame…Plays with good urgency chasing down ballcarriers and is solid in run support, gaining leverage by grabbing and wrapping the runners to drag them down…Gets good production going vertical and jumping for the ball…Will take advantage of most interception opportunities, as he has the loose hips to weave and the head fakes to elude on returns…The thing you see on run support is his ability to leverage and get involved in the play with no delay on his part…Has a good concept for taking proper angles to close and is always scraping and sifting through trash to get to the ball when playing in the box…Not a consistent wrap-up tackler, but will drag down and wraps better when making open-field tackles…Plays on all of the kick-coverage units and shows great effectiveness as an edge rusher or back-out defender on punt returns.
Negatives: Has good timed speed, but can get a bit rangy and awkward taking steps in transition when he gets up on his toes in his backpedal…Will gamble and play off his man too deep at times, relying on his recovery speed to compensate…Better in zone than man coverage, as he sometimes gets to engrossed with punishing the receivers at the line of scrimmage…Can get knocked off-balance when the receiver delivers a solid hand punch…Will generally stay low in his pads, but when he stands tall in his forward charge, he can get washed out of the rush lane by the lead blocker (lacks a strong anchor in tight areas)…Has adequate return skills, but must be more patient waiting for blocks to develop, as he is prone to outrunning his coverage…Makes better plays vs. the ball than when covering the receiver and his range might be a better fit at safety, where he can keep the activity in front of him, rather than being isolated on one opponent (best when allowed to attack the ball).
Compares To: MARLIN JACKSON-Indianapolis…Like Jackson, Smith is a physical shutdown cornerback who will bring immediate value to some team in the sub package, as he has experience playing any position in the secondary. He has good eyes for tracking the ball in flight and, while he prefers to attack the ball better than play in off coverage, he showed in 2007 that he is capable of creating problems for receivers trying to get into their routes. In his only season as a full-time cornerback, opposing passers completed just 35 percent of their tosses into his area (21 of 60) and he has never allowed a touchdown reception. He could also be an adequate fill-in on returns, but is not good enough to make a decent living handling those chores. Still, it adds to his resume, as he relishes being used in a variety of roles. Simply put, he might be the most coachable defensive back in this draft and is easily one of the most versatile.