As the NFL enters the final stretch before this weekend’s NFL Draft, prospects like Missouri’s Aldon Smith are wondering just how well they will fare after months of speculation. Fortunately for the talented defensive end/linebacker, the stock seems to be rising as teams fall in love with his pass rushing potential.
If mock drafts are to be believed, Smith is now projecting at the higher levels of the teens after several weeks placing him to the Jaguars at No. 16 or the Chargers at No. 18. Instead, the Houston Texans are a popular landing spot for Smith given Wade Phillips arrival as defensive coordinator and his work with DeMarcus Ware — a player to which Smith is commonly compared.
In the most recent SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, Brian Galliford writes, “Smith doesn’t project perfectly as a rush linebacker, but in Wade Phillips’ one-gap scheme, he’d have a lot of opportunities to blitz and get after the QB.” The same belief persists at Walter Football: “It’s never too early to draft a potential double-digit sack artist. Pass-rushing defensive ends often go earlier than projected.”
Even stronger evidence is found with three of four mock drafts at NFL.com projecting Smith to the Texans, with only Pat Kirwan believing the Texans will go elsewhere — with Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. At this point, it looks like Smith’s potential wins out over those who believed he could use another in school to boost his stock, and it seems the Texans will be the ones to delight in the decision.