The rumors have been growing that the Houston Texans are closing in on Missouri linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith for the last several days. With the final words coming in from sportswriters on the morning of the first round of the NFL Draft, it seems those predictions are bound to come true.
Early projections had Smith’s “tweener” status knocking him to the bottom half of the first round. Others cited his lack of experience or bulk as other reasons why he might fall, yet the incredible athleticism and pass-rushing prowess has kept Smith near the top even amid any criticism.
Top draft analysts have Smith landing with Houston, especially given the status and tendencies of new Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. As Rick Gosselin writes, “The Texans are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and Smith can play anywhere in it. He has the frame to bulk up to play end or the speed and athleticism to play linebacker. The NFL’s 30th-ranked defense needs help.”
Mel Kiper believes the same and comments, “Smith represents a ton of upside for a defense that really needs to add some pass-rushing help opposite the great Mario Williams.” Nearly everyone compares Smith to DeMarcus Ware in terms of upside, so this seems a can’t-miss selection in the draft. Then again, we’ve all learned that anything is possible.