Former Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith is one of the top defenders in this year’s NFL draft, despite missing a large chunk of the 2022 season due to a pectoral tear.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. currently has Smith rated among prospects as the No. 5 outside linebacker.
Here’s a look at NFL.com’s detailed draft profile for Smith ahead of the NFL Combine that will begin on Feb. 28. in Indianapolis.
Overview: Lower weight class edge defender with the toughness to mix it up with bigger players.
Based purely upon his sleek but smallish frame, one might expect him to be more effective as a rusher than run defender but the opposite is true.
Smith is hard to move off of his spot due to his technique and leverage, and he can be disruptive when firing into gaps.
He can get off the mark as a rusher, but lacks the counters and contact balance to consistently assault the pocket at a high rate.
Smith falls below the size standards some team might have for a 3-4 outside linebacker,
but he plays team-first defense with quality technique that should help him translate to the pros.