Pass rush: Few pass rushers have length like Smith and know how to use it. Beats blocks with a good punch and extension to disengage. Shows excellent knee bend, which allows him to dip under offensive tackles when he’s working to the outside. Is still developing as a pass rusher. After coming out following his sophomore season, there are parts of Smith’s pass rush that are raw. More than anything, he’s a speed rusher to the outside. Is still developing counter moves and working to the inside.
Pursuit: Is aggressive in pursuit, especially when going after quarterbacks. Maintains good balance when offensive linemen are knocking him around. Does have trouble shedding if quick blockers can get into his frame. Is an agile player who moves laterally pretty well. Closes with an explosive burst. Because he can move around pretty well, it’s easy to see why some consider Smith a good 3-4 outside linebacker candidate.
Run defense: Has reportedly added a good amount of bulk since the season ended. That’s good because at times Smith had trouble holding his ground against the run. Plays with decent leverage against the run, but should learn to drop down and gain better leverage. Doesn’t have great lower leg drive to drive blockers back. Is much better on backside pursuit when he can change direction and make plays wide.
Strength: As mentioned above, Smith has been getting stronger since the season ended. That should be good for Smith as power is his biggest weak spot. Smith isn’t built like a basketball player, but he has a lean, long frame. Doesn’t have the strength at the point of attack to split double teams. Although he was used inside in some situations, Smith relied more on his initial burst than speed to shoot the A-gap.
Tackling: Is more of a drag down tackler than a fundamental wrap-up and drive through tackler. Makes up for his fundamental issues with long arms and speed. Uses his agility to move around and finish plays in space.
Technique: Uses his long arms pretty well to avoid cut blocks. When he can’t get deep to the outside rushing the passer, will struggle some to disengage. Needs to learn better hand placement to work a counter move. Leverage is only ordinary, but should get better with experience.
Final word: Smith was a sensation as a freshman, but was slowed as a sophomore due to fractured right leg. That caused him to miss the first three weeks of the 2010 season. On the year, he had 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Still, Smith is ready for the NFL. He’s so intriguing because few possess his ability to get after the passer. In the 4-3, Missouri used him on the inside and outside with good results. If he develops more power, he should be a terror as a 4-3 defensive end. If not, he might work better as a 3-4 outside linebacker.