Rod Smith is rightfully considered the best wide receiver in Denver Broncos history. His two Super Bowl rings, three Pro Bowl appearances, 849 receptions, 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns – all of which top the Broncos’ all-time lists – speak to his accomplishments.
Smith, famously, went undrafted before flourishing with the Broncos, and at the UC Health Training Center, he sees similarities between himself and quarterback Case Keenum – who also went undrafted after a sterling college career at Houston.
Speaking to Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7, Smith explained the challenges of going from undrafted to starting, and talked about how important it is to create chemistry between a quarterback and his wide receivers.
“You never want to let anybody judge your talent,” Smith said. “Honestly, it sucks when they do. Case [Keenum] has been behind before. He’s always had to battle his way back. Now it’s his team. This team is his, this job is his, and it’s up to him to lose it. You can tell by some of the throws I’m seeing him make and the atmosphere around him — these guys are excited for him.
Smith understands that overcoming the stigma of being undrafted requires a tough-as-nails mentality. “Case is a battler,” Smith said. “He never had the big fanfare his whole career. He stepped up when he had to step up. Last year [with the Vikings], he played absolutely phenomenal. You can see how not just the team, but the city, is already embracing this guy and we’re looking forward to him having a great year.”
Of course, any quarterback is only as good as the receivers catching his passes, and Smith explained how a new quarterback can improve the situation. “You want to have a guy that you know where he’s going to be in the pocket and you kind of get his rhythm, because quarterbacks have a rhythm, and once they get into that rhythm and you get into the rhythm and get into synch – I’m telling you, it’s gold. When you have that rhythm and that feel, it just feels special.”
That feel, and the confidence in the pocket that Keenum has put on display early in training camp, has been praised by the Broncos’ veterans and rookies alike, and although it wasn’t on display in his preseason-opening cameo appearance, the fact that Keenum is unchallenged as the starter means that his chemistry with his receivers should only improve.
Click here to listen to the full interview with Rod Smith, including what he thinks of his potential Hall of Fame chances, and why he won’t lobby for votes.
Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup. Download the all-new free Mile High Sports Radio mobile app for Apple or Android.