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Green Bay Packers could turn to unlikeliest of places for help at WR

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The Green Bay Packers will likely be in the market for wide receiver help during the 2021 offseason. Check out why the Iowa Hawkeyes have two wide receivers that could help Green Bay.

The Iowa Hawkeyes, yes those Iowa Hawkeyes have a pair wide receivers that could help the Green Bay Packers at the wide receiver position. The Hawkeyes and talented wide receivers are not something one typically hears in the same sentence. In fact, the Hawkeyes haven’t had a wide receiver selected in the NFL Draft since 2012, when Marvin McNutt was picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round.

That’s all about to change this season, as the Hawkeyes have two wide receivers that will likely hear their names called during the NFL Draft in 2021. 

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Smith-Marsette is coming off a season in which he recorded 44 receptions for 722 yards and five touchdowns. He added three rushing touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. 

The most noticeable aspect of Smith-Marsette’s game is his big-play ability and athleticism. He averaged 16.4 yards per reception last season. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands due to his electrifying speed.

In a recent article posted on The Athletic, Scott Dochterman said that Smith-Marsette impacts the game the moment he steps on the football field due to his speed.

“With blazing speed, Smith-Marsette impacts the field every time he steps upon it for every offensive position.”

In high school that elite speed of his was on full display in track. In the 110 meter hurdles, he posted a personal best of 13.97. Marc Morehouse, the Iowa football beat writer for The Gazette said that Smith-Marsette’s greatest strength is his speed. 

“Check his high school hurdle times,” Marc Morehouse, who covers the Hawkeyes for The Gazette said. “His speed is there. It’s a weapon. I think the hurdles results might be better than everyone thinks. He put on 12 pounds last year and instead of being a skinny kid who could be pushed off his route, he fights for balls and stands his ground. Good wingspan. Odd fact, he also played water polo in high school and was fantastic.”

ESPN recently listed Smith-Marsette as Iowa’s most exciting player for the 2020 season. That “exciting” playmaking ability was on full display during Iowa’s victory over USC in the Holiday Bowl last season. A game in which Smith-Maristte earned offensive MVP honors. The dynamic wide receiver scored on a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He also had a potential touchdown pass dropped. 

“Smith-Marsette makes you wish that, just for one year, Iowa would be a little less Iowa-like and air the ball out a bit more,” ESPN’s Bill Connelly wrote. “He averaged 16.4 yards per catch with five touchdowns last year and could easily become Iowa’s first 1,000-yard wideout since 2011 if he gets enough opportunities. And he’s one of the nation’s best kick returners.”

Smith-Marsette is likely never going to become the number one wide receiver in the NFL. However, with his speed, big-play ability, versatility, and his special teams value as a return man, he could turn himself into a dynamic chess piece for any team. 

Brandon Smith

In 2019, Smith finished with 37 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad, considering he only played in eight games due to an ankle injury. 

Smith and Smith-Marsette are completely different players. Smith-Marsette thrives due to his explosiveness. Smith wins due to his physical play style and frame (6’2”, 219 pounds). He’s able to physically dominate cornerbacks and is a jump-ball specialist, with large hands. 

“He’s got an NFL body,” Morehouse said. “He’s big, strong, and has learned how to use his body. One of his first routes as a Hawkeyes, he was totally bodied and it ended up being a pick. That never happened again. Both Ihmir and Smith are four-year WRs. They have a toolbox of knowledge and they know how to use it. Brandon might be low 4.6s, but Iowa never threw the fade until he matured. He’s got that role.”

Smith is not as dynamic as Smith-Marsette, but he’s very impressive in jump-ball situations due to his outstanding leaping ability. In high school, Smith showed excelled in the high-jump. He won the State high-jump in Mississippi when he recorded a jump of 6-6. His personal best in that event was a jump of 6-8.

Carving Out a Role for the Packers

Neither one of these guys is going to be the lead man for an NFL team. However, they each possess a specific skill set that could help them carve out a role for any team at the next level. 

With Smith-Marsette it’s all about getting him the ball in space. He’s got the elite quickness to outrun defenders and has enough wiggle that will have defenders grasping at air. 

For Smith, he could turn himself into quite the red zone weapon with his leaping ability and talent for coming down with contested catches. With his strong hands and frame, Smith could also carve out his role as a possession receiver. That ability was on full display during Iowa’s bowl game victory over USC this past season.

“Smith returned in time for the Holiday Bowl, and his four catches resulted in either first downs or touchdowns. Smith might be the Big Ten’s most powerful receiver coupled with the largest hands and best jumping ability.”

Kelton Copeland, Iowa’s wide receiver coach recently joined the “On Iowa” podcast and said that the sky’s the limit for both Smith and Smith-Marsette. 

“With both of these guys the sky’s the limit,” Copeland said. “I’m really excited to watch these guys and be a part of their progress and hopefully watch these guys play on Sundays.”

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[…] few weeks back we took a look at a pair of Iowa wide receivers that could help the Green Bay Packers at that […]

[…] Green Bay Packers have had success dipping their toes into the Iowa Hawkeyes pipeline. Former Hawkeyes, Bryan Bulaga, […]

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