With the Atlanta Falcons needing a primary pass-rusher, Preston Smith is one of their ideal fits for the new scheme under head coach Dan Quinn. Smith has shown pass-rushing ability as both a defensive end and interior defensive lineman while at Mississippi State.
He would assume a similar role in the Falcons scheme, as he could align as a 5- or 6-technique on base downs while playing 3-technique on pass-rushing downs next to either Ra'Shede Hageman or Jonathan Babineaux as part of the sub-package.
Height: 6'5" Weight: 271 pounds
Arm Length: 34" Hand Measurement: 10 ⅝"
40-yard dash: 4.74 sec. 10-yard split: 1.63 sec.
20-yard shuttle: 4.28 sec. Three-cone Drill: 7.07 sec. Bench Reps: 24
Vertical Jump: 34" Broad Jump: 10'1"
2014: 13 games, 48 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 15 QB hurries, 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced, 3 pass deflections, 2 blocked kicks, 1 defensive touchdown
2013: 12 games, 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 1 fumble forced, 3 pass deflections
2012: 13 games, 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 QB hurries, 1 fumble forced
2011: 9 games, 7 tackles, 1 fumble forced, 1 pass deflection
Smith is a pure power pass-rusher who has a big frame, long arms and the ability to bulldoze his way to a quarterback from the edge, the 3-technique or the 1-technique. He has a solid rip move that's effective as a counter to his straight bull rushes.
He's also excellent at playing against the run. He uses his size effectively to set the edge of the line and can force plays back inside or knife through the B-gaps when lined up as a 3-technique. The Falcons could use him as a strong-side defensive end to his absolute strengths.
As far as an edge role is concerned, Smith probably shouldn't be looked at for any sort of coverage role. His hip flexibility barely allows him to bend the edge, let alone drop into coverage, hit a spot and then drive on the ball in short zones.
His best moves tend to be interior moves, and he should develop a few more wrinkles to his pass-rushing game. Smith sometimes gets tied up with offensive linemen due to improper hand usage, and massive improvement here could make him someone special on the field.
How Does He Fit the Comrade Filter?
Smith was never arrested or suspended. When it comes to off-field issues, there aren't any that are public knowledge. He's known for being a hard worker, and despite not being a captain, he is still someone who will lead by example.
Smith is a good pass-rusher who can start away. If he falls to the middle of the second round, he'd be an ideal fit for the Falcons should they not sign a free agent to compete with Malliciah Goodman and Tyson Jackson at the strong-side defensive end spot.
He's a well-rounded player who would be a boon to any locker room. Atlanta could use his versatility in multiple packages and should be able to find an ideal role around his strengths. Put him inside next to Hageman on passing downs and watch the fireworks.
How He Would fit into the Falcons' Plans
The Falcons would likely have to snatch him up in the second round—should he even fall that far. They should take him if they haven't already attacked the strong-side defensive end spot by that point. Smith's versatility will help him to make an instant impact.
Atlanta would be able to use Smith on multiple packages, and he could even see time as a 1-technique defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations. His great use of leverage makes him a threat to get to the quarterback at any time from anywhere.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft.