Notre Dame Senior
Has decent speed and can move in space. Capable of making the open field stop or the one at the point of attack. Willing to fill against the run and comes up to make the hit against the ballcarrier. Does a nice job setting the edge against the outside run. Gets nice depth in zone coverage and shows ability to keep things in front of him. Flashes burst upfield as a blitzer, and occasionally will put his hand in the dirt and be decent there.
Not very instinctual and tends to be a second late reacting to the run or the pass. Lacks ball skills and doesn't have the hips and burst to match up with quicker backs and receivers in man coverage. Needs to be a more consistent tackler and do a better job wrapping up in the open field. Overpursues and needs to learn to take better angles in space.
Smith has NFL-caliber tools, but just lacks ideal instincts and playmakers skillset. He is a capable blitzer, decent in coverage, and can defend the run. He doesn't wow you, but has enough skill to think he can contribute in multiple schemes at the next level. Started at both middle and outside linebacker during his sophomore and junior years at Notre Dame, combining for 125 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, and 2 INTs during that span. Was relegated to a backup as a senior, but managed to start final 5 games as an injury replacement for Carlo Calabrese at ILB. Finished year with 50 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 1 sack, and 1 INT.
Smith has the potential and versatility to play in multiple schemes. In a 4-3 scheme,he probably fits best as a SAM linebacker. In a 3-4 scheme, I think he is good enough to add depth both at ILB and potentially as an OLB. In the latter scheme, he's not a good enough pass rusher to really impact there, but he's a decent option at the SAM spot in that scheme for one that likes to drop its linebackers in coverage and have them defend the run as much as it does rush the quarterback. But regardless of the scheme, he's depth and reserve talent rather than a potential starter. If he gets comfortable in scheme, four or so years down the road he might be a decent stopgap starter for a couple of games, but not the caliber of player that you think he can be an effective starter for extended periods of time. His value will largely depend on his ability to produce on special teams. He can blitz, cover, and play the run. And while he doesn't excel in any of those areas, at some point I suspect he'll be able to find a home in someone's scheme as a backup.
Smith would be a backup SAM linebacker for the Flacons, but also has the ability to add depth at the WILL spot. He's good enough playing in space and in coverage to think he can be a decent No. 2 behind Nicholas there. But his value in Atlanta will largely depend on him being an effective special teams player, at least early in his career. Three or four years down the road, he might be comfortable enough to be a decent stopgap starter for a big chunk of a season, but he'll be exposed for extended periods of time.
Smith can add depth in multiple schemes, and thus is worth a look in the seventh round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 2.5
Pass Rush: 2.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.