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NFL Scout Explains Why Ihmir Smith-Marsette Was A Strong Pickup

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The Chicago Bears claimed an unprecedented seven players off waivers between August 31st and September 1st this past week. GM Ryan Poles saw an opportunity to help his roster and didn’t let it pass. The seventh and final claim might be the most interesting of the bunch. It’s no secret the Bears have depth concerns at wide receiver. Injuries have dogged the position all summer. They needed a healthy body. Surprisingly, their choice ended up being Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Some expected the team might prefer somebody with more experience. Smith-Marsette was a 5th round pick for the Minnesota Vikings last year. He caught just five passes and six targets during the season, although it resulted in 116 yards and two touchdowns. It is hard to know what exactly the Bears are getting. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune got in touch with an NFL scout about it.

“I touched base with a scout about Smith-Marsette, who said he has good burst and can sink and separate in his routes. The scout said Smith-Marsette’s hands were only OK and that concentration and detail were bigger questions than ability. Sometimes when a young player is released and goes to a new team, it’s a humbling experience and ends up being a springboard to greater success. Perhaps that will be the case with Smith-Marsette.”

That seems to be a clear enough assessment.

Smith-Marsette has all the abilities necessary to succeed in the NFL. His problems are technical in nature. I contacted a source who followed the wide receiver during his career at Iowa. This is what they had to say about him.

“Very good athlete. Strong hands. He’s got the playmaker gene. Good return specialist. At Iowa, they used him all over the formation as a receiver, runner, slot, outside, in the backfield, etc.”

That falls in line with what Poles like in their receivers. They should be able to do more than one thing well. Smith-Marsette was a danger in several ways.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette is a rare specimen.

One thing about Iowa is that it isn’t exactly the premier program for developing wide receivers. Their offensive philosophies are considered horribly archaic in many ways. Smith-Marsette is only the fourth receiver to get drafted out of that program since its head coach Kirk Ferentz was hired in 1999. Not only that, but he was also the highest of those four picks. That is a testament to his ability.

He finished college with 1,615 receiving yards, 274 rushing yards, 1,520 kick return yards, and 20 total touchdowns. He might have gotten more respect if he had come from another program like Alabama or LSU. It is hard to understand why Minnesota cut him. He led his team in receiving during the preseason. Maybe it was his scheme fit. Then again, the Vikings are running a system similar to the Bears.

Whatever the actual reason, the team felt Ihmir Smith-Marsette was worth the risk. Others around the NFL agree.

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