Look for Gophers’ Terell Smith to Steal Show at NFL Combine

Photo: Elizabeth Flores - Star Tribune

The Minnesota Gophers have four former players — (C) John Michael Schmitz, (RB) Mohamed Ibrahim, (S) Jordan Howden and (CB) Terell Smith — interviewing with teams and competing against each other at the 2023 NFL Draft Combine (Feb. 27 – Mar. 6).

Terell Smith’s time to shine

Schmitz is a possible first rounder and widely considered the best center in the draft. The other three Gopher alums are expected to be later round picks. But Terell Smith could change that on Friday afternoon when defensive backs are put through the drills portion of the combine.

Smith is a long 6’1″, 215 lbs and he’s an athletic freak. He’s going to score off the charts in many of the exercises he’s put through. That includes the 40-yard dash. Latest rumors around town have Terell running under 4.40 seconds.

Career highs and lows at Minnesota

For Terell Smith, it’s never been about talent or skill set. It’s been about putting all of his knowledge, experience and athleticism together on the football field. Smith showed promise early in his college career, logging 573 snaps as a freshman in 2018. His 69.3 PFF grade that season promised a bright future.

But the Georgia native struggled to stay on the field for the next few seasons, as the Gophers defense got better under Joe Rossi and more talent accumulated in the secondary. Over the next three years combined (2019-2021), Terell Smith failed to reach the snap count he did as a freshman alone.

In 2022, though, Smith put it all back together, proving to Fleck, Rossi and NFL scouts that, not only does he have the size, strength and athleticism to be an elite cornerback, but he has the work ethic and football acumen too.

He logged career highs in snaps (598), PFF Grade (80.9) and interceptions (2) and allowed a completion percentage of just 58.5% while holding QB’s to a 68.2 passer rating when thrown at. It was the type of season Smith needed if he was going to be drafted this offseason.

That growth on the football field has given Terell Smith an opportunity to be one of the biggest standouts at the combine this week. Now, he just has to take advantage.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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