top of page

Vic Fangio's Newest Piece in the Secondary

Cam Smith Draft Report

When Vic Fangio decides to draft a defensive back, it is because he has a clear vision for how this player can be used in his intricate system. In Fangio’s system, defensive backs are asked to read the release and routes of the receivers rather than true zone defense where their vision is on the quarterback. That means defensive backs need to be intelligent, reactive, and have good spacial awareness. If we look at the Dolphins’ current defensive backs: Jalen Ramsey, Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones, Xavien Howard, Kader Kohou, and Deshon Elliott; we see that it is littered with players who can line up all over the secondary. Cam Smith fits that build; he is capable of lining up outside, but I believe he will thrive as a nickel for Fangio’s match-zone system.


Fangio’s specialty are his variations of cover 6 and in this scheme, nickels are mostly used as quarter flat defenders. This means they are the force defender in run fits and play close to the line of scrimmage. In order to play this position, a level of physicality and aggression is required. While nickels tend to be smaller so they can line up with quicker slot receivers, Smith is nearly 6’1; however, he uses his size to his advantage. He is strong and tough; this allows him to match up with linebackers and not get bullied in the run game. Smith is reliable when having to make open field tackles and crack replace. His aggressive mindset reminds me a lot of Jalen Ramsey; his energy is infectious and his confidence bleeds out on the film. While Smith is passionate and competitive, he does not let his passion get in his way. He channels it in an intentional way that elevates the game of all the players around him.


In coverage, Smith does a good job at playing with proper leverage and not letting defenders cross his face. When he is playing off, he keeps his shoulders squared to the receiver which allows him to match up with quicker slot receivers. He has loose hips which makes him fluid in and and out of transitions. While Smith is physical as a tackler, he still has room to grow when it comes to using his hands. Whether he is pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage, or hand checking receivers throughout the route progression; Fangio is going to teach Smith how he can use his physicality when defending receivers in the pass game.


My biggest concerns with Smith are his reactionary skills and overall speed. He gets “grabby” when he is beat, and does not have the recovery speed to run with faster slot receivers downfield. At the combine, Smith blew me away by running a 4.43 40-yard dash, but I did not see that on film. While Smith won’t be asked to run with slot receivers on vertical routes too often, it is a liability if Smith struggles as a downfield defender. Fangio understands how to use players to their strengths and I expect Smith to be used as a downhill player who plays breaks on the ball rather than playing vertically. He is going to use his intelligence and physicality to win reps while providing the juice to fuel his teammates.


At South Carolina, Smith primarily played on the outside, but in his final two games he was featured as a Nickel. That means he is new to the position, and has a lot of untapped potential. His ability to read route concepts and be physical while having inside-out versatility reminds me of Jonathan Jones for the Patriots. If we look at the AFC East: the Patriots signed Mike Gesicki, the Jets signed Allen Lazard, and the Bills just drafted Dalton Kincaid. Smith is the perfect defender to matchup against flexed out tight ends and big slot receivers; he is going to bring a physical demeanor and a lot of energy to the Dolphins’ star-studded secondary. My only big concerns with Smith is his lack of game-speed and his tendency to grab when he gets beat. With that being said, his ability to play with leverage and patience while still having room to grow when using his hands in coverage may make up for this lack of speed. Like I said earlier, Vic Fangio has a way of getting the best out of his players and that is why I believe Cam Smith has the potential to turn into an impactful starter by the end of his rookie year.

Draft Grade

Movement Ability (Hips + Feet): 9.75/12

Football IQ + Leverage: 8.25/10

Toughness + Physicality: 8.5/10

Ball Skills: 7.5/10

Competitiveness + Effort + Confidence: 9/10

Speed + Trigger: 6.25/8

Recovery + Patience: 6/8

Overall: 55.25/68

Final Rating: 81

Pro Comparison: A slower version of Jonathan Jones

Draft Grade: Third Round Grade

Cam Smith
bottom of page