Gamecocks’ Cam Smith, Zacch Pickens seleced on 2nd day of NFL Draft

Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) makes a catch over South Carolina defensive back Cam...
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) makes a catch over South Carolina defensive back Cam Smith (9) for a 3-yard touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)(Artie Walker Jr. | AP)
Published: Apr. 29, 2023 at 8:10 AM EDT
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — After doing a lot of work in free agency to build an experienced roster poised to go further than last season’s first-round playoff exit, the Miami Dolphins added depth at cornerback with South Carolina’s Cam Smith, then selected Texas A&M’s speedy running back Devon Achane on the second night of the NFL draft.

The Smith selection at No. 51 was a bit of a surprise for the Dolphins, who could have added a tight end or offensive lineman with their first pick of the draft.

Smith — a prospect that some experts felt had first-round talent — had six interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss during his career with the Gamecocks. He’s joining a Dolphins secondary that was decimated by injuries last season, which played a role in Miami finishing 27th in passing defense in 2022.

“It was the opportunity at that point in the draft to add a really talented football player,” said Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, “and in this league, especially the AFC with a lot of talented quarterbacks and teams, you can never have enough corners, as we experienced last year with the rash of injuries that we dealt with.”

Smith said he didn’t have many conversations with the Dolphins during the pre-draft process, but he was South Carolina teammates with Grier’s son.

“I was just calling Landon (Grier) because we were just talking about how if I fell late into the second round, it could be that,” Smith said. “I was just going off of what he was saying about the process, and then what Chris Grier was saying when I was on my visit — If they had the chance to get me, they would come and get me, and they stayed true to that.”

Smith is versatile and can play both outside corner and slot. He said that he and Grier spoke about getting adjusted to the NFL and honing his technique on the outside first.

“Then moving inside a little later,” Smith said, “moving, learning those things and stuff like that. So just kind of gradually going into it.

The Bears added South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens with the first selection of the third round.

Pickens, the 64th pick, had 42 tackles and broke up three passes in 12 starts for South Carolina last season. At 6-4 and 291 pounds, he has size and a quick first step that helps him stop the run.

“I can be one of the greatest if I check all my boxes,” Pickens said. “If I do everything right, and I know I will, I can be one of the greats. And I’m not holding that back. I’m so for real.”