J.J. Cooper at Football Outsiders loves a pair of rookie pass rushers as everyone should this year in Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers. Miller and Smith both validated their early draft selections at No. 2 and 7 respectively and for Smith, the former Missouri star made good on the more potential than productivity he was selected for.
Cooper says that Smith in particular was used correctly by the 49ers coaching staff to maximize his potential. Miller was an every down player which will likely give him Defensive Rookie of the Year nods over Smith despite the lower sack totals. However, he still likes Smith’s game.
He ranks eighth in the league in sacks, and is easily first on the 49ers. Unlike Miller, he’s not an every down player yet, but as a defensive end who largely plays on passing downs, he’s doing his main job: getting to the quarterback.
Smith does that very well, but what the numbers don’t show is that he’s getting more of his sacks from effort and mismatches than great pass-rushing moves. Of his 10.5 sacks, 4.5 have taken more than three seconds.
Smith is certainly one of the elite young pass rushers in the league at this point and should give Gary Pinkel at Mizzou another player to point to in the NFL for recruiting success.