6’5, 280 pounds | Offensive tackle | Southern California
Agility: Because of his athleticism, Smith can slide his feet with ease. He appears very loose in the hips and has no problem changing direction. Knows how to use his agility to slide, adjust and reposition to stay in front of defenders. Shows good flexibility to absorb a defender’s power move and continue working.
Movement: Is a top athlete for an offensive tackle. Moves around with ease and doesn’t get ahead of his feet. Used in the second level blocking on screens. Gets to the second level fine but doesn’t locate defenders especially well. Will often whiff. Still, Smith has shown hustle and usually finds another way to help block down field.
Pass blocking: Gets a good base in pass protection. Has long arms but has an inconsistent extension. Has a very good kick slide to the right. Smith doesn’t get too wide but he maintains his area because he has quick feet. As Smith gets stronger, he’ll more easily handle power rushers. Against speed rushers, Smith does really well when he can continue riding them to the outside.
Quickness: Very good quickness off the snap. Plays out of a two-point stance. That combined with his quickness helps Smith get in position faster than defenders. Uses his foot speed to mirror defenders.
Run blocking: As a junior, has played in a zone blocking scheme at USC. Because of that, he’s not had to drive block much. But judging by his frame, Smith should get stronger in his lower body to anchor. Even though he comes out of his stance high, Smith typically keeps his pads low. Doesn’t have the best initial hand punch. Can be inconsistent where he drives into a defender.
Strength: This is where Smith needs to get better. He’s bulked up 20 pounds since entering college but needs to continue adding strength throughout his frame. When he’s asked to drive block in the run game, he’ll struggle moving defensive linemen around. Still, Smith gives very good effort and it takes a lot for a defender to beat him purely with a bull rush.
Technique: The biggest technical flaw on Smith is his hand placement. Smith’s hand speed is fine but he doesn’t always get proper placement. Where he needs to improve is extending his arms. Too often Smith lets defenders get into his frame and push him around. Footwork is technically correct and rarely makes a misstep.
Final word: Smith is starting to gain a lot of attention as an offensive tackle prospect. He’s an easy player to fall in love with. He has a long, lean frame and is athletic. Smith gets out on the move as well as any offensive tackle you’ll see and is loaded with potential.
However, Smith is only in his second year as a starter. He’s only been a reserve as a left tackle and spent more time on the right side. He’s up to about 280 pounds and came out of high school at 265. His power and weight gain has been impressive, but he’ll need to add at least 10 more pounds.
As he is right now, Smith would likely find himself in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He’d likely have to start his career backing up unless a zone blocking team picked him. But if he wants to maximize his draft stock, Smith would be wise to return for his senior season. That way he can continue to get stronger, maybe move to the left side and probably get picked in the top ten in 2012.