GREENVILLE, N.C. – Former East Carolina University offensive tackle D’Ante Smith, an All-American Athletic Conference selection who played an integral role helping the Pirates amass 400-plus yards on 18 occasions in 30 career starts, was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 34th pick in the fourth round (139th overall) of the 2021 National Football League Draft Saturday.
Smith is the eighth ECU offensive lineman in history to be drafted and follows tackle Guy Whimper, who was taken by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the 2006 draft and later was part of the organization’s Super Bowl XLII title in 2008.
A four-year letterman and three-year starter primarily at the left tackle position, Smith was an anchor for a unit that turned in three of the program’s Top 10 all-time passing campaigns in 2017 (3,815 yards), 2019 (3,466) and 2018 (3,417) while playing in 33 career contests.
Before suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2020 season, Smith opened all 12 contests in 2019 and was part of a Pirates’ offense that posted 500-plus total yards four times – 574 (Gardner-Webb), 638 (Cincinnati), 644 (SMU) and 509 (Connecticut). In addition, ECU ranked 22nd nationally in both passing yards (288.8) and fewest sacks allowed (1.4) per game and he provided protection that resulted in four single-game individual school records, which included passing yards (535 by Holton Ahlers), reception yards (283 by C.J. Johnson) and total yards (556 by Ahlers) against Cincinnati and TD passes (6 by Ahlers) at SMU.
He started 12 contests in 2018 as the Pirates eclipsed 400 yards of total offense on eight occasions and 500-plus yards three times – 510 vs. North Carolina, 556 vs. Memphis and 657 vs. Connecticut – and stood 20th at the FBS level in passing yards per game with a 284.8 clip. Smith opened five of seven games in 2017, a year in which ECU ranked 12th nationally in passing (317.9 ypg) and 42nd in total offense (425.6 ypg).
Smith, an Augusta (Ga.) native and Grovetown High School product who will turn 23 on June 9, is the 66th overall ECU player drafted and the first since wide receiver Zay Jones was taken by the Bills in the second round of the 2017 draft.