NFL Draft Profile: OLB Aldon Smith Missouri

KANSAS CITY MO - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Jordan Webb #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks is sacked by Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers during the game on November 27 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Aldon Smith, OLB/DE Missouri

Background: Smith is a two year starter for the Tigers after spending his freshman year as a redshirt on the scout team. Named first team All-Big 12 this past season, and was a freshman All-American in 2009. Missed three games this past season after fracturing his fibula in October, but returned for the rest of the season.

Measurables: 6'4" 263 with a 4.74 40 time

Draft Projection: Top 15 pick

Pros, Cons and Analysis After the Jump

Pros:

 

  • Extremely tough, fought his way back from a bad leg injury and still played at a high level
  • Long, he has a long frame that is excellent at disrupting passing lanes
  • Long arms, not only do they help knocking down passes, but they help keeping blockers off of him
  • Quick closing burst, once Smith gets to the backfield he closes extremely fast
  • Versatile player, played both inside and outside and was able to rush the passer from either place
  • Gets small, constantly finds holes through the line that shouldn't be there for someone his size
  • Very Good in pursuit, takes good angles chasing the quarterback or ball carrier
  • Good first step, gets off the line quickly and into the backfield
  • Has a variety of pass rush moves, and is good at countering the blocker
  • Very good production, 17 sacks and 29 TFL in just 23 career games
  • Immense upside and potential
  • Holds the point of attack, in the run he held his ground consistently
  • Great athleticism 
Cons:
  • Raw, still unrefined in a number of areas
  • Not much experience standing up as an OLB
  • At times played sloppy
  • First step is good, but not elite
  • Will need a crash course in covering receivers
  • Needs to get stronger, managed just 20 Bench Press reps
  • Had good, but not great Vert. Jump and Broad Jump numbers
Analysis:

Smith is one of my highest risers in this draft class, and a guy who I think is going to be a star. I love his toughness and smart heady play as he always seems to find the football. Smith has all the makings of perennial double digit sack master, and should cause havoc in opponents backfields. While his overall skill set is a bit raw, he has all the physical and mental tools to dominate opposing lineman. 

Although his lack of physical strength is a concern, he plays strong and has a lean frame to add more muscle. His lack of time as a linebacker could scare some teams off, but he looked fluid in the drills at the combine, and never looked stiff in college, covering screens. He was known for knocking down passes and he does have an interception to his name, so he isn't without some ball skills. 

There is always a risk with converting a player like Smith, but I love the intangibles and think he is the best 3-4 rush linebacker after Von Miller. The sky is the limit with Smith, and I have a feeling that whomever drafts him, will have an instant star.

Why he makes sense for the Redskins:

The Redskins have to increase their pass rush this season, as Brian Orakpo was basically a one man show last year. Smith would be a perfect complement to Orakpo at the other outside backer position, and would create matchup nightmares for opposing offenses. Smith's stock is going way up right now and he is easily in the top 15 range right now.

i know a lot of people would consider Robert Quinn above Smith, but I really think Smith is the better fit. Quinn looks to me to be a better fit as a 4-3 DE, and although he could stand up, I feel that Smith is more natural at it. Smith also should develop into a better coverage guy than Quinn, given his athleticism and fluidity of his motion in space. Both are elite pass rushers, but Smith might have the better overall skill set.

Some might question Smith since he is a bit more raw, and is more of a late climber, but I feel that he is a great choice. His potential is off the charts, and he should thrive with Orakpo getting the majority of the attention. Smith reminds me a lot of DeMarcus Ware, and should give the Redskins the most feared rush linebacker pairing in the NFL.

Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.
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