Braden Smith, OG
School: Auburn | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-6 / 303 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Joel Bitonio
Braden Smith is reliable, consistent, and has played at a high level in just about every one of his 37 consecutive starts at Auburn. Smith is a player dedicated to his craft who takes pride in his play and takes his job seriously. The journey he has taken to prepare himself for the NFL level ought to produce respect from anyone that comes across it. The senior guard prospect is a bit overlooked in my view in the conversation of top guards in the country. Guys like Quenton Nelson, Isaiah Wynn, and Billy Price get all the press and its well deserved but I think Smith should be in the same conversation.
He is tough as nails, strong as an ox, and a well-rounded prospect. He's a mauler in the run game and was a big part of the great running performances buy Auburn backs over the past few years because of his ability to open up lanes. In pass protection, he plays with good footwork and technique. His arm extension is a powerful factor in keeping defenders at bay. His head is on a swivel and he is aware of the assignments and players around him and goes looking for blocks. He even has a bit of versatility and played some right tackle while at Auburn as well. There aren't many weaknesses to his game and for a team that is looking for a plug and play guard Braden Smith is an option.
- Powerful and dominant run blocker that wins at the point of attack and maintains blocks with refined technique.
- He’s a solid anchor and drive blocker that plays with great leverage and balance has no problem sealing gaps and executing reach blocks.
- Footwork and awareness also show up in pass protection. Can also mirror and slide into blocks allowing him to get his hands on quick interior linemen and edge rushers and redirect.
- Nasty attitude on the field and will drive and finish blocks.
- Excellent size and strength for the position.
- Average athlete for the position which bumps him down to his current draft projection. A clear fit for a power run scheme. Not so much for a zone blocking one.
- Sometimes has trouble connecting at the second level and I would like to see more of him out in space to see how he moves - say on the screens the Redskins execute.
Let’s see his work:
Braden Smith was playing no games with Arden Key on this run. The low man always wins. pic.twitter.com/mBYmoT5XfZ— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) January 4, 2018
Really nice help from Auburn OG 71 Braden Smith results in 53 yard pass from Stidham to Davis. pic.twitter.com/wh5HeZkIBz— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) October 2, 2017
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
This will be my third consecutive year calling for an upgrade to the LG position on the offensive line and Braden Smith will be one of the guys I will stand on the table for. Shaun Lauvao is a free agent and his future with the team is currently up in the air. Objectively Lauvao was never a terrible guard he just was never as good as the Redskins needed him to be in just about all areas of the game. Working on assumptions if the Redskins aren't looking to improve the position the offensive line will likely look like a unit of Williams, Roullier, Long (hopefully), Scherff, and Moses. With four out of the five starters being solid already the Redskins could ignore the position and look elsewhere.
I think it would be a mistake not to solidify a trench unit when you have the opportunity to. lf the team upgraded the unit with a guy like Smith they wouldn't regret it especially since he fits the power scheme so well. For all the talk of Hogs 2.0 Smith embodies that personality and play style and would convert the left side of the line into a true run blocking force and well as provide reliable and consistent pass protection. Some have a problem with spending a second rounder on this position. If I could solidify the offensive line while Trent Williams is still in his prime, give the team QB reliable protection and open up running lanes for the backs I wouldn’t think twice about it.