In Todd McShay’s latest column, he comments on the draft prospects and rumors buzzing around two of Missouri’s prime draft assets: quarterback Blaine Gabbert and DE/OLB Aldon Smith. When speaking of the talented pass rusher, McShay specifically praises Smith’s athleticism and pass rushing moves. But there are some issues still remaining that will keep Smith from being a predicted Top 10 player:
Smith has a somewhat lean frame but doesn’t appear to have the lateral agility or fluid hips teams look for in 3-4 outside linebackers. But with room to add some bulk and his pass-rush ability Smith is well-equipped to play end in a 4-3 scheme. He has also shown on film the ability to slide inside and provide an interior pass rush.
In other words, as good as Smith can look against competition in college and as great as he can workout, there simply has to be a place for him on the field at the NFL level. That tweener status can really hurt a player’s draft stock because any team picking at a top spot, or even in the first round, really can’t afford for a player not to have a very understood role coming into the team.
Consider what happens when a team doesn’t know what to do with the player they’ve chosen. Last year’s usage of C.J. Spiller for the Buffalo Bills provides one example of a team choosing the athletic player that had no specific role awaiting him. The good news for the Bills is that offensive role players like that can learn. But the defensive side is another issue entirely, and it’s one that Aldon Smith might suffer from as teams try to figure out how exactly to utilize his incredible skill set.