Shi Smith showing tendencies of iconic former Carolina Panthers WR

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith and D.J. Moore
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith and D.J. Moore /

Shi Smith is showing some noticeable traits during training camp that compare favorably to an iconic former Carolina Panthers wide receiver.

If there were some questions about how Shi Smith was going to take on his significant challenge with the Carolina Panthers this offseason, he’s answered them and more in a short space of time. The sixth-round pick is working exceptionally hard to carve out a role for himself, which might be easier said than done considering the level of competition elsewhere on the depth chart.

This is nothing new for Smith. He was largely overlooked during the evaluation process and fell all the way to Day 3 before the Panthers scooped him up.

They were suitably impressed with his performance at the 2021 Senior Bowl and came away from South Carolina‘s pro day with the same thoughts after taking a long hard look at the wideout and cornerback Jaycee Horn on his way to being the No. 8 overall selection.

Smith won’t be found wanting for effort.

He is also one of the more vocal players on the field during drills and 11-on-11.

Although their talent might be poles apart right now, Smith’s adjustment to the pro ranks and fearless approach is bringing around some comparisons to an iconic former Panthers receiver who was also relatively unheralded coming out of college before becoming an all-time great.

And they just so happen to share the same surname.

Shi Smith has similar traits to Carolina Panthers legend Steve Smith.

Steve Smith remains adored by Carolina’s loyal fanbase despite last playing for the organization in 2013. He was a relentless force all over the field, striking fear into the hearts of opponents with elite production and trash-talking that had cornerbacks lining up against him beat before they’d seen a snap.

An outstanding career has Smith potentially in line to become a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer in 2022. Nothing more than the influential figure deserves.

Before we go any further, nobody is suggesting Shi Smith will reach the level of Steve Smith.

But the way he goes about his business is eerily similar.

The swagger and confidence are there for all to see. Backing this up with production when it matters most is the next step for Smith, with preseason games sure to tell us plenty about just how much we can expect during his rookie campaign.

It’s perhaps unfair to be giving players who’ve yet to play a competitive contest these sorts of comparisons. Smith should make the roster despite a high competition for places, but it can go either way with late-round selections more often than not.

Tempering expectations – at least initially – might be the smart way to go with Smith.

The potential is undoubtedly there. But having so much quality around him allows the first-year-pro to develop at his own pace.

Something that could reap rewards later in the season and beyond.

There will never be another Steve Smith. Many players have tried to imitate his approach over the years, but it’s a mentality that simply cannot be fully replicated.

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Only time will tell as to whether Smith will ever become a productive NFL wide receiver. But judging by the player’s early efforts at camp, he’s off to a pretty good start in the grand scheme of things.