Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville (HT: 6’1”; WT: 180 lbs)
NFL Comparison: Marcus Gilchrist, Safety, San Diego Chargers
- Has great height for a safety and should able to add about 20 pounds on his frame in an NFL conditioning regiment. With the NFL prioritizing size and speed, Smith will be looked upon kindly by league evaluators.
- Rangy player who showed good speed in deep coverage. He was able to defend half of the field and limit the amount of explosive plays because he can make up ground quickly.
- Closing burst and short-area explosiveness is above average, considering his size. Most big safeties are stiff in the hips and lower body, but Smith is a good, fluid athlete.
- Shows good timing and leaping ability when fighting for the ball. Has a good feel for when to take off and try to high point.
- Forced turnovers throughout his career with active hands when tackling and being around the ball on pass plays.
- Might be able to play some cornerback, despite being a full-time safety for Louisville. His combine is important for this projection, but his limited exposure at the position was encouraging.
- Sound technical skill when tackling. He stays low with his pads and can wrap up to bring the ball-carrier down consistently.
- Experienced player on defense and special teams for a respected defensive head coach, Charlie Strong.
- The defensive system that he played in limited how often he had to read the entire field and react to it. Understanding the routes of receivers and how to quickly process this information is incredibly important, but he didn’t have to show this skill often.
- Eye-discipline is weak at this point, as he will follow the wrong receiver through his zone too long or keep his eyes in the backfield despite the receiver running past.
- Tends to overcommit on running lanes and letting his gap assignment go. To avoid allowing big plays, he will have to fill his assignment more consistently.
- Play recognition is a work in progress, as he will take steps toward the line of scrimmage on pass plays or vice versa, and wasting steps is a critical issue.
- Doesn’t always end up around the ball, which teams want so he can be there to finish a missed tackle or cause a turnover. His effort must be as high as possible.
- Three-year starter at safety, and he played in 52 games over four seasons.
- Three-time All-Big East selection; first team 2011, second team 2010, 2012.
- First-team All-American Conference in 2013 inaugural season for the conference.
- Former 2-star recruit as a high school prospect, via Rivals.com.
- Graduating with a degree in sport administration.
- Twitter handle is @RealizeDaDream.
Hakeem Smith has a big body and good athleticism, but he will have to develop his recognition skills to become a viable NFL starter. He was in a system that may have limited his exposure while at Louisville and played next to potential first-round pick Calvin Pryor. Smith could hear his name called on the middle of Day 3 due to his physical gifts.
Draft Projection: Fifth Round