Kansas City Chiefs OL Trey Smith. Photo via Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) on Twitter.
Taking a player in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, only to have that player become an immediate starter and help win a Super Bowl within two years, seems like a pretty good deal.
The Kansas City Chiefs would certainly make the case for it.
ESPN, however, does not agree. NFL experts Matt Miller and Jordan Reid listed their Top 50 NFL Draft steals over the past 10 years for ESPN earlier this week. While the list is obviously filled with household names left and right, former Tennessee and current Kansas City offensive lineman Trey Smith did not appear on the list.
Smith was taken at No. 226 in the 2021 NFL Draft. Only one of the 50 players that Miller and Reid listed was picked behind Smith’s landing spot of 226 overall. Smith was just the 17th player in Kansas City Chiefs’ history to start every game of his rookie season and only allowed 2.5 sacks that entire year. Seems like finding that sort of player in the sixth round, more than 200 picks into the draft, would be considered a steal. Especially if that player helped their team win a Super Bowl.
Which he did.
Miller and Reid listed three qualifications for their picks, with the second being:
“To qualify, a player must have been drafted at least 15 spots — roughly half a round — later than he should have been, and that’s just the floor for the exercise.”
VFL Trey Smith is officially a Super Bowl Champion#SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/l4FJu6u6Wd
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) February 13, 2023
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So maybe Smith wasn’t placed on the list because Miller and Reid believe that the sixth round was a fair landing spot for the former Tennessee standout after dealing with medical concerns. Okay. Regardless, though, it’s hard to believe that Smith isn’t considered one of the Top 50 draft steals over the last decade in the league. Not to say that he is 1-20, or even in the 30s. But the 40s, at worst, sound fair. Alas, maybe it’s just too early in Smith’s young NFL career to decide.
In fairness, it can be hard to calculate an offensive lineman’s impact because of the way that linemen don’t rack up constant stats. That being said, though, Kansas City’s offensive line gave up the third least amount of sacks per game in the NFL during the 2022 season. The Chiefs gave up the eighth-fewest sacks during the 2021 season, too. While Smith is only a piece to the puzzle that is K.C.’s offensive line, it’s clearly an important piece on an elite unit.
In just two years in the NFL, Trey Smith was named to the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) All-Rookie Team in 2021 and helped the Chiefs hoist the Super Bowl Trophy to close down his second season in the league. Smith’s position will limit him from certain stats and awards but should be considered one of the top draft steals nonetheless.
There was one Tennessee player on the list, though.
Former Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara was listed as the No. 13 biggest draft steal of the past 10 years. Kamara was selected out of Tennessee by the New Orleans Saints with the No. 65 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“After bouncing around in college — Alabama to Hutchinson Community College to Tennessee — Kamara slipped to the third round where the Saints made him part of one of the NFL’s greatest draft classes ever,” Miller wrote for ESPN. “Kamara quickly made his mark, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, earning a Pro Bowl invite and receiving second-team All-Pro honors.”
To see the full Top 50 NFL Draft Steals list from Matt Miller and Jordan Reid of ESPN, click here.