Pass rusher Aldon Smith earns mixed reviews
Posted on: March 17, 2011 7:24 pm
While the vast majority of the NFL (and certainly media) attention was spent on quarterback Blaine Gabbert at Missouri's Pro Day, another potential first round pick -- defensive end Aldon Smith -- was among the other former Tigers who also worked out for scouts Thursday.
Like a lot of prospects in the 2011 draft, there is a wide range of opinion regarding Smith. Two sources (who each admitted to me that they attended Thursday's workout more to watch Smith than Gabbert) demonstrated just how different those thoughts could be.
The first source, who works for a club operating out of 3-4 base defense, thought that Smith looked "fantastic." He cited Smith's "explosive burst, acceleration and potential to be a big sucker once he grows into his body." The source envisioned Smith as a 3-4 rush linebacker who "absolutely should" go off the board in the middle to late portion of the first round.
The second source, scouting for a team with a four man front, wasn't nearly as impressed with Smith's workout. He called the workout "just average" and felt that it proved his limitations as strictly a 4-3 defensive end due to the fact that he "can't bend." The source referred back to a "disappointing" Combine workout from Smith in which the Tiger pass rusher was "one of the slowest DL in the shuttle."
Smith, for the record, registered a 4.59 and 4.50 in the short shuttle, designed to test change of direction and burst. His average ranked 16th out of the 20 DL tested in this drill at the Combine.
This source thought that Smith deserved to be drafted in the second or even the third round, but acknowledged that "someone is going to take him earlier based on his upside and his 2009 tape."
Smith burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, breaking Justin Smith's school record with 11.5 sacks to go along with 64 tackles and 19 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Smith was unanimously chosen as the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2009.
Despite being the focus of every team's blocking scheme, Smith's 2010 season began in fine form. He posted 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks in Missouri's season-opening win against Illinois. But a broken leg suffered against San Diego State sidelined him for three games and hampered his play much of the rest of the season. His statistical production dropped as a result: 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Smith currently rates as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated defensive end and No. 18 rated player overall.