Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas (HT: 6’1” WT: 266 lbs.)
Fifth Round: 159th Pick
NFL Comparison: Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
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- Well-built and defined frame that is suited for the NFL from day one.
- Instinctive player with developed play recognition.
- Plays with proper pad level, never loses leverage battles at the point of attack.
- Naturally plays with fine balance on contact, always on the balls of his feet.
- Fires out from his stance with an explosive first two steps.
- Notable lateral quickness with ability to change directions in a hurry.
- Highly flexible rusher who can flatten out around the corner.
- Flashes skills to convert speed to power and compress a pocket.
- Works a variety of pass-rush moves including an effective spin.
- Leverages mobile quarterbacks to keep them in the pocket, fine ball awareness.
- Compact rusher who’s difficult for tackles to lock up.
- Outstanding length at just over 34-inch arms despite a lack of height.
- Skillful hands to disengage from run blocks with relative ease.
- Can slip blockers with lateral quickness to the inside and disrupt the backfield if scheme allows.
- Gap-disciplined when it comes to setting the edge, will not get sealed.
- Fluid hips and nimble feet with ability to get depth quickly when dropping in pass coverage.
- Has experience playing from on his feet and with a hand in the dirt.
- Production held back by limitations in defensive scheme as a senior.
- Lacks optimal height and may have a maxed-out frame.
- Might be viewed as a tweener due to body type.
- Not a top-level athlete despite lack of stature.
- Doesn’t have a second gear to accelerate around the corner on speed rushes.
- Inconsistent usage of power as a rusher, even when playing contain role as a senior.
- Only spins from right to left, may be predictable as a rusher.
- Little effectiveness on stunts or rushing from the interior.
- Has negligible functional strength taking on blocks, is handled by tight ends on occasion.
- Struggles to stand up run blockers at the line of scrimmage to play off in a timely fashion.
- Doesn’t have a high impact pursuing ball-carriers from the backside or in the open field.
- Needs to more consistently wrap up and finish plays as a tackler.
- A 3-star prospect as a recruit, ranked 48th among outside linebackers, according to ESPN.
- 27 career starts at Arkansas with playing time all four years.
- 2014 Senior Bowl participant.
Chris Smith’s senior season may cast some doubt for those who expected him to take another step forward. The way the Arkansas coaching staff used him, in mostly a contain role, played against his strengths and held him back, though.
Smith’s resoundingly impressive Senior Bowl performance is evidence of his natural talent. He is a multi-dimensional pass-rusher and an instinctive football player. No defensive schemes will write him off as a non-fit, but Chris Smith may project best in 3-4 or hybrid type defenses.
Draft Projection: Second-Third Round
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