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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Versatile, Physical Georgia DB Tykee Smith a Perfect Fit

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Pittsburgh Steelers Georgia Bulldogs 2024 NFL Draft Tykee Smith
Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) during a preseason scrimmage on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

MOBILE, Ala. — Tykee Smith was born in Pennsylvania, and played his high school football in Philadelphia. He started his college football career right down the road from Pittsburgh, as a member of the West Virginia Mountaineers, and he’s hoping to end it with his name called during the upcoming NFL Draft. Could the team making that call be the Steelers?

Smith’s college football journey took him from Morgantown to Athens, Georgia, where he’s become a two-time National Champion with the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia used him mostly as a slot corner and in-the-box safety, roles that Smith excelled with.

After an injury cost him his 2021 season, he became a regular in 2023 and then a full-time player in 2023, logging over 600 snaps of defense, and he made impacts all over the field, leading Georgia in interceptions (four), tackles (70) and tackles for loss (8.5).

The versatility that allowed him to have that success at Georgia is the thing that he’s banking on leading to success in the NFL, and he’s hoping to add to it.

“Just come out there competing. Being able to show different versatility,” Smith said when asked about what he hopes to show at the Senior Bowl. “Georgia did a really good job putting me in situations to show different versatility so this week I wanted to show I can play high safety too.”

Smith is coming off his best individual season statistically, recording 70 total tackles, four picks and two pass deflections. The Philadelphia native feels he was finally able to put his true ability on display. After transferring from WVU, Smith missed most of the 2021 season with an injury and even played sparingly in 2022. So even though 2023 did not end in a Georgia nation championship like each of his first two years as a Bulldog, this past season proved the most for Smith.

And Smith believes his game translates well to the NFL. To that end, he described himself as being “a physical player and a dog” while also having “a real good football IQ” and being coachable and ready “to come in and give it all I got” on any NFL team.

Besides what he can offer on the field, Smith also feels he grew as a person since leaving West Virginia and is now a more mature as a person. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Smith left Morgantown after the 2020 season still a teenager and now looks to become a professional as a 22-year-old grown man.

Despite still believing transferring was the right decision for his life and career, Smith didn’t ignore where his college career started when he announced his plans to enter the NFL Draft. Smith is now willing to explain why he still holds the fact that he was once a West Virginia Mountaineer in high regard and why he felt the need to recognize the WVU program in his post to publicize his goal of getting to the NFL.

“Definitely appreciate them (WVU) giving me the opportunity to come in my freshman year and take off from there and them (WVU) believing in me. I saw West Virginia’s staff out here yesterday so I said ‘what’s up?’ to them and talked to them. I hadn’t talked to them since I hit the portal so it was good to talk to them. So it was a good time seeing them,” said Smith.

As a Mountaineer, Smith earned Freshman All-American status in 2019 and was a second-team All-Big 12 player in 2020.

But no matter where his journey ends, Smith is trying to appreciate the journey, a journey that started at WVU, led him to Georgia and will likely end in the NFL, and take things day by day.

“What I appreciate the most about the Senior Bowl is being able to showcase my talent on this stage and then being able to represent one last time in the right way.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

Measured at the Senior Bowl: 5-foot-9 3/4, 206 pounds, 9 1/4-inch hands, 31 3/8-inch arms, 75-inch wingspan

Smith’s size profiles right in line with some other Pittsburgh Steelers slot defenders in recent memory. Mike Hilton checked in at 5-foot-8 3/4 and 178 pounds. Arthur Maulet coming out of Memphis was 5-foot-9 3/4 and 189 pounds.

He’s also not far from some of the guys that have played free safety there. Damontae Kazee was 5-foot-10 1/4 and 184 pounds.

WHERE WILL TYKEE SMITH BE DRAFTED?

Good luck figuring that out. The current NFL Mock Draft Database position for the Georgia and WVU product is 110th, which would put him in the fourth round. But he’s been all over the board since the start of the season, peaking as high as No. 56 in the second round and plummeting to as low as 226th in the seventh round before rebounding to his current position.

A solid week at the Senior Bowl should help shore up his draft stock and find some certainty about what teams think about Smith.

TYKEE SMITH SCOUTING REPORT

When it comes to defensive back, the guys that get the big money and get drafted at the top of the first round are the big, outside cornerbacks. But Smith brings to the table something that is almost just as valuable these days:

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