Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Player Profile: Alabama OT Andre Smith

Pros: Smith is a great run blocker and the big fella moves very well for a person of his size, showing quick feet and the ability to cut well. He creates a lot of running room for backs both on inside and outside runs. He does a good job of clearing the man in front of him, then getting to the second level to block the path of linebackers and safeties. He didn’t run a good forty, but he is quick and shows good agility. He plays faster than he times. Smith allowed just one sack in 2008. He does well when his man tries to bull rush or overpower him. The left tackle often absorbs the rush, keeps his leverage well, and plays much stronger than his 19 reps on the bench press showed. Talent and potential are not a question with the Birmingham native—if properly motivated, the ability is there for Smith to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler.

Cons: Smith didn’t end his college career on a good note as it was reported he received gifts from an agent. Smith was suspended for the Sugar Bowl, which cost his team greatly as Alabama lost to a less talented Utah team. After the Sugar Bowl, Smith again hurt his Draft stock when he showed up at the NFL Scouting Combine and said he wasn’t going to work out because he wasn’t in shape. Smith then left Indianapolis without telling anyone. In March, Smith finally worked out for teams at Alabama’s Pro Day. He had his weight down to 325, but looked very flabby and did not have much muscle tone on his huge frame. As for his on the field weaknesses: At 6-4, he is a little short for the ideal left tackle. There has been and will always be questions about his conditioning and mental toughness—he often looks tired and lazy late in games. He doesn’t play with a consistent motor throughout the game and looks to take breaks when the play is away from him. The Alabama product may not be best suited to play on the left side, which is where the team that drafts him would like him to play since he will sign a big contract.

Scouts Take: There is no question that if Smith hits the weights and film room he will succeed as an NFL player. He is the only the seventh player in Alabama history to start as a true freshman from day one. He was considered by some as the number one prospect in the entire Draft until his incidents before the Sugar Bowl and in Indy. Smith desperately needs to land on a team that is going to push him and make him work hard each and every practice. His team will have concerns that he will not eat well and won't stay mentally focused. If Smith does not succeed on the left side he could move to the right. And if that doesn’t work, the former Crimson Tide could be an immediate star at the guard position. However, if a team is going to take him in the top ten, they will want him to succeed at left tackle. He's a boom or bust prospect with a high upside, but he comes with a clearly labeled “buyer beware” tag.

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media