Born: 30th of September, 1983
Hometown: Newark, NJ
College: University of Syracuse
Draft: UDFA – 2008 (Green Bay Packers)
Height: 6 feet 0 inches
Weight: 192 lbs.
No Professional Stats
40-Yard Dash: 4.59 seconds
3-Cone Drill: 7.15 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.50 seconds
Bench Press: 8 reps
Vertical Jump: 35.0 inches
Broad Jump: 119.0 inches
Taj Smith was a career backup at Syracuse, the school he attended for his red-shirt junior and senior years, after attending Bakersfield Community College. After setting the career receptions record at Bakersfield, he transferred to Syracuse where a fractured collarbone sidelined him in 2006.
Taj Smith entered the 2008 NFL Draft with basically no prospects. He was underwhelming at the combine and his resumé prior to the draft was striking, but still considered weak. Combined with the severity of his collarbone fracture, Smith had very few people in his corner to develop. This did not mean he was without merit. On the contrary, Smith was praised for his spirit, drive, and work ethic. He was noted for having explosiveness and throttle control, important tools for deep threat receivers, despite his poor timed speed.
On the flip side though, Smith was critiqued for lacking concentration. He had trouble keeping his eye on the ball, which led to numerous dropped passes. He was also thin and frail, not due only to his weight (prior to the draft it was near 185), but also because he lacked on-field strength, despite serious work in the weight room at Syracuse.
While Smith’s entrance into the draft was not abnormal, how he entered the draft led some to question his fortitude. Smith petitioned the NCAA to grant him an extra year of eligibility (which was granted after considerable effort), only to turn around and leave early for the draft. He also has a history as a younger man that raises some flags. Smith was kicked out of Jr. College, arrested for being involved in a fight (to which he brought a knife), and was kicked out of high school. Since the draft though, Smith seemed to mature quite a bit, until he was arrested again during the 2009-2010 postseason for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Figuring out Smith’s place on the Colts, and role in Indianapolis is difficult. On the one hand, he has excelled at practice, earned multiple attempts to compete for a roster spot, and has headlined the second team receiver corps this off-season. Then, despite being singularly impressive at training camp prior to the first preseason game, Smith proceeded to drop numerous catches that were either routine, uncontested, or well-placed. He followed the first preseason game by struggling in leading up to the second preseason game, only to put up an impressive performance, showing focus and poise he seemed to lack previously.
In the end, Smith may be a very talented addition to the receiving corps, but his inability to be consistent could be a serious flaw he may not be able to overcome. His delinquent behaviors in the past also make him a potential character concern, not unlike Ed Johnson or John Gill. Of course, if there is an organization specifically suited to improving a player’s consistency and personal flaws, it is the Colts.