Jonnu Smith is tight end for the New England Patriots. Born in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after losing his father to an accident at age four, his brother being arrested and a friend killed, his mother decided it would be best for Jonnu to move in with his aunt & uncle in Ocala, Florida.
Playing at Ocala West Port High School, Jonnu Smith was a two-star tight end and accepted an offer to play at Florida International University. Smith’s sophomore season was his strongest, his 61 receptions and 8 scores nearly tripling anyone else on the team and his 710 receiving yards pacing the Golden Panthers. Invited to the 2017 Combine, Smith tore up the drills, posting a 4.62 (88th-percentile) 40 time and 80th-percentile or better Speed Score, Burst Score and Catch Radius. With strong college stats and excellent workout metrics, the Tennessee Titans selected Smith early in the third round of the 2017 draft.
As a rookie, Smith saw a solid 52.1 percent of the Titans’ snaps but earned few targets behind Pro Bowler & target hog Delanie Walker. In 2018, with Walker lost much of the season to injury, Smith’s snap share jumped to 82.9-percent (No. 9) albeit mostly as a blocker for Derrick Henry. Despite the jump in playing time, Smith sat only No. 32 in routes run & garnered a target on just 17 percent of those routes.
Smith’s 2019 was a mirror image of 2018. With Walker hurt again, Jonnu saw a majority of Tennessee's tight end snaps but was mostly used as a blocker, his snap count again far exceeding his routes run (No. 32) & target rate (No. 63). In 2020, with Walker retired, Smith’s snap share remained high but this time the Titans started to leverage Jonnu’s athleticism as a receiver. Smith's routes run increased and target rate spiked to No. 11. Now a red zone favorite, Smith posted 9.3 fantasy points per game, the No. 13 fantasy ranking.
Playing off his strong 2020, the New England Patriots rewarded Jonnu Smith with a four-year, $50 million contract. Seemingly wanting to recreate a new tight end dyamic duo in the Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski mold, Bill Belichick and crew also signed Hunter Henry to a massive deal. Although Next Gen Stats graded Smith as having the second-highest average separation among tight ends in 2021, unfortunately for him, it was Henry who earned Mac Jones’ favor, greatly outpacing Smith in most opportunity metrics and leaving Smith with just 4.2 points per game and the No. 40 tight end fantasy ranking.