Missouri Tigers DE Aldon Smith had an impressive season in 2009 and appeared to be well on his way to do the same in 2010 before a leg injury knocked out part of his season. Smith returned later in the season, though, as if nothing had happened so physically he's okay.
Mentally, the idea of playing in the NFL is just starting to hit him. Here's a passage from his Sporting News diary:
My last game at Missouri was when I started really thinking about playing in the NFL. Really -- and this is going to sound crazy -- I never would have thought that I was going to play in the NFL. It was always one of those things where you think it's cool, but it wasn't like some kids who grow up their whole life and say, "I want to go to the NFL, I'm going to play in the NFL." I played football my junior and senior years in high school. People always sort of told me I could play in the NFL, things like that, but I didn't believe it. It's starting to hit me now.
Not only will he play in the NFL, he'll be a first-round pick. While QB Blaine Gabbert got most of the press (as quarterbacks do), it could be Smith who is more of a sure thing in the NFL. Arguably the second least important position in the game is pass rusher so Smith, if he can be productive in the NFL, will be an important player.
Smith's draft stock is a fairly large range. I've heard as high as the top 10 for him, which isn't out of this world considering he's a pass rusher, and I've heard dropping to the bottom of the first round. My gut tells me that Smith is going to dominate at the NFL Combine and his stock is going to move up. I think he's got the physical skill set to make some NFL teams interested.