Cameron Smith, LB
School: USC | Conference: PAC 12
College Experience: Senior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 238 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 5th Round
NFL Comparison: Nick Kwiatkoski
Cameron Smith was a 4-star recruit from Granite Bay, California. He committed to USC back in 2014 and was part of an excellent recruiting class by Steve Sarkisian that featured Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones, Marvel Tell, Rasheem Green and Iman Marshall just to name a few. Smith established himself as a highly productive player and a force on the USC defense immediately. He has been in the starting lineup since his freshman season and has racked up over 350 total tackles in his career. Smith has always shown himself to be an instinctive football player and a natural at the position but his biggest knock is the nagging injuries he has been dealing with. It seemed Smith was always a bit banged up which is normal for football players but as tough as he is his injuries would lead to missed time in some form or another. A knee injury caused him to miss time his freshman season and a recurring hamstring injury caused him to miss time this year. The good news for Cameron is that he is healthy now and he took that opportunity to show his skills at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. Smith posted impressive numbers in Indianapolis and should have scouts taking a second look at the film. If teams believe he is healthy and that he can stay that way don’t be surprised if you hear his name called on day two of the draft.
- Good size and athleticism for the position.
- Prolific and reliable tackler. Instincts and read and react ability are arguably his best qualities. He can fight through scrums and get himself into positions others wouldn’t be able to.
- Has the quickness, athleticism, and fluidity to make a difference in coverage. Knows how to read the QBs eyes, gets depth in zone coverage and can break on the ball (14 career passes defended) and disrupt passing lanes. Shows decent hands with 4 interceptions in his career.
- Shows some versatility within his position. Is an inside linebacker but he can also play outside as well as line up in the slot in pass coverage.
- Team captain who shows good leadership and ability to run defense on the field.
- Injury history (knee, hamstring).
- Is not known for his big play ability with so many players at the position this year with great athleticism and a slew of highlights Smith is a steady grinder who may not jump out on tape or be as capable as others.
- Doesn’t have much pass rush ability.
- Functional strength and ability to take on offensive linemen needs to improve.
Let’s see his work:
You'll be hard pressed to find a player with more heart and hustle than USC linebacker Cameron Smith (#35).— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) February 2, 2019
Smith has a non-stop motor and also has good awareness in both man and zone coverage.
My report:https://t.co/O3awbGweNe pic.twitter.com/Ng0rs0Ua1N
#USC LB Cameron Smith displays the ability to read on the run, adjust his angle of pursuit to the RB, maintain leverage on the ball & shows solid tackle technique. Intelligent LB with 4 yr starter experience. Will be limited by his lack of burst, speed & COD #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/D3GpHwEDZX— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposescout) February 16, 2019
How Would He Fit On The Redskins
The Redskins certainly have plenty of room to improve starting and depth quality to the inside linebacker unit in this draft. Zach Brown was officially released which leaves Rueben Foster (who may yet still face suspension), Mason Foster (who should be released) as starters. Shaun Dion-Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons, and Zach Vigil are depth. Cameron Smith could certainly take a roster spot from JHC and Vigil if he were drafted by the team. Smith has the best of both players abilities and could certainly step in and perform well at a both run defense and pass coverage if his number was called. The uncertainty around Smith revolves around his injury history. The Redskins have shown that if the player is smart and productive that they are willing to overlook injuries (see SDH). Smith could be yet another value at the position if he does end up being selected on day 3. His nose for the football and his ability in coverage could earn him some playing time on the field outside of special teams as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team thought they were ‘fine’ at line backer (they are not) but adding a player of Smith’s ability to the rotation could make the unit a little better.