Has a quick first step. Shows good straight-line speed upfield and closes quickly on the ball or quarterback. Has a pretty good motor and will give chase. He works through double teams. Has an effective swim move as an inside counter, and flashes potential as a bull rusher. Is able to get his hands inside and jolt the tackle. Can line up inside at tackle and beat guard to his outside shoulder with his quickness. Capable of playing with his hand off the ground. Comfortable moving in space and can drop into coverage. Shows ability to read a screen and make a play with nice recognition. Has long arms and can get extension when trying to get leverage against the run and get off blocks. Works laterally down the line vs. the run in pursuit, and able to make stops in the backfield.
Tends to rely on his first step and quickness to beat blockers. Needs to work on disengaging and polish up his pass rush moves. Needs to use his hands better, particularly when working in a short area inside. Not sure if he can impact as an edge rusher. Undersized and can get pushed around and engulfed vs. the run at the point of attack. Needs to get off blocks better when defending the outside run against the tight end.
Smith is a quick, athletic pass rusher that played multiple spots for Missouri: at end, tackle, and occasionally with his hand off the ground. At the next level he projects as an edge rusher or potentially an outside linebacker because of how well he moves in space. He was very productive in his two years at Missouri combining for 112 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, and 17 sacks. This past year, he missed 3 games early in the year with a broken leg, but played the latter half of the season clearly at less than 100% which seemingly hurt his burst and ability to push off it, but he still looked quick.
Smith has a lot of potential, and was very productive at Missouri in his short stint there. But I wonder how well he projects as a defensive end at the next level. It could have been due to the injury, but Smith looked like a straight-line speed rusher in the games I saw this past year, and I'm not sure he shows the bend and lean that you need to be a speed rusher by dipping the shoulder and turning the corner. He might be better off bulking up and being more of a left end prospect sort of in the mold of a Ray Edwards. He has a quick first step, but needs to develop a better array of pass rush moves before he can start to impact as a pass rusher. You like the fact that Missouri played him at multiple positions and he was effective pressuring the quarterback, suggesting a natural pass rushing instinct. But you wonder where he projects best in the pros. He might also make a better outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme because of how well he moves in space. Either way, Smith shoudl be a good pro. The question really only becomes how good. Will he be a premier pass rusher, or is he more likely to be an above average to good complementary guy. He's young and doesn't have a ton of experience, so it could take him some time to develop. But when he does, he should be a good pro. I wouldn't be surprised if he's just a 6-sack guy at the next level, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he's a 12-sack guy either. So his potential is somewhere in there, and he should definitely help an NFL team. But how good he becomes might depend on the scheme. But you like the fact that he offers the potential and versatility to play on either side of the defensive line as well as outside linebacker.
Smith would definitely play defensive end with the Falcons. And his primary role would likely be developed as the successor to Abraham on the right side. He should be able to carve out a niche as a rookie as a situational pass rusher, but I'm not convinced he's going to offer a ton of ability right off the bat as a potential starter on the right side. But the Falcons would probably move him around quite a bit like they do with Abraham, trying to see where he's most comfortable. He would have the potential to be a starter in 2012, although he's probably a guy I wouldn't expect to really start to take off until his third season. He has the potential to be a premier pass rusher, and the year or so of mentoring from Abraham would help him on that path. Again, not sure how good he is going to be, but I'd probably project his potential to be an 8-10 sack guy by his third or fourth season.
Smith definitely has first round potential. But because I'm not convinced he'll be a top-level starter at the next level, he is probably a better value towards the end of that round. But his ability to play in multiple schemes probably bumps him up a
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.5
Point Of Attack: 3.0
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