Sunday, April 5, 2009

Player Profile: Jason Smith Baylor OT

Pros: Smith shines as a great pass blocker—he former tight end has the necessary long arms to keep pass rushers at bay. He shows great balance, nimble feet, is very quick off the snap and he gets to the second level to create big plays, especially when pulling. Smith plays hard and has a dominating presence on the field, which is why he is viewed as possessing the ideal skill set to protect the quarterback’s backside. He is still learning and might have the most upside of any offensive linemen in the Class of 2009.

Cons: Smith is not as experienced as the other top offensive linemen and is a bit raw, not surprising considering he did not start his career at Baylor playing in a three-point stance. For a former tight end, he doesn’t move from side-to-side as well as one might anticipate. There is a lot of speculation about whether he has the upper body strength to handle bull rushers and he doesn’t dominate as a run blocker as much scouts would like. The former Bear could use some time to fully learn the proper techniques of the position. Particularly when running blocking, he needs to do a better job of bending his knees. An MCL injury caused Smith to miss five games in his junior season and will be something teams will look at—making durability a slight concern.

Scouts Take: In a very stacked offensive tackle class, Smith has the best combination of athletic ability and upside. He is exactly the type of player that teams want to build a line around. Not many players’ draft stock have gone up as much as Smith’s since the start of the season. Once considered a mid-to-late first rounder, Smith has moved into the top four and could possibly be the number one overall pick on April 25th. After starting his college career at tight end, the Baylor product has made a nice transition to the O-Line but is still learning this. Because of this Smith has tremendous upside. It may not happen in his rookie campaign, but he should be able to play at a high level for years to come.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Baylor)