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NFL Draft Profile: Brandon Smith, Linebacker, Penn State Nittany Lions

NFL draft profile scouting report for Penn State linebacker, Brandon Smith

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#12
Pos: LB
Ht: 6034
Wt: 250
Hand: 1028
Arm: 3458
Wing: N/A
40: 4.52
Bench: N/A
3-Cone: N/A
Shuttle: N/A
Vert: 37.5
Broad: 1008
DOB: 4/12/01
Eligible: 2022
Henrico, VA
Louisa County High School

Brandon Smith
Penn State Nittany Lions


Pros:

Ezring: Hyper-athletic 4-3 outside linebacker that plays in the box, at overhang, on-ball and off-ball. While Smith played SAM in 2020, he will fill the WILL role in 2021. Smith is a big, long, explosive and fast defender that is capable in run and pass defense. Against the run, he plays with sound gap integrity and patience. He consistently takes deliberate angles to the tackle point to limit cutbacks. When defending the option, Smith reads the mesh point well and stays disciplined. The Penn State linebacker closes downhill at a very high speed and is a big hitter when the opportunity presents itself. He also has flashed when taking on blockers thanks to his length, leverage and strength. Additionally, Smith has impressive potential in coverage. He has the tools to cover tight ends or running backs in man coverage. In zone coverage, Smith has exhibited sufficient spatial awareness and route recognition while reading the quarterback. He is also a fairly fluid mover in space which enables him to click and close quickly. As a pass rusher, Smith has excellent speed and adequate bend. While the third-year linebacker is still developing, Penn State coaches have spoken highly of his traits and work ethic. Smith has the potential to develop into an NFL starter.

Cons:

Ezring: While the Penn State linebacker has excellent tools, he is still a work-in-progress. The generally fluid athlete can take false steps in his transitions at times, functionally reducing his speed. What’s more, he typically turns his hips late in coverage. Similarly, Smith struggles to keep his hands and feet in sync in press coverage. The young linebacker also practices improper eye discipline, regularly locking his eyes into the backfield while in coverage. As a result of these tendencies, Smith gives up leverage in coverage too often. Against the run, the athletic defender has inconsistent results when taking on blockers. He is routinely late to employ his hands and can, as a result, be restricted by offensive linemen. Perhaps his most notable shortcoming, Smith struggles at the tackle point. He rarely breaks down as he approaches the ball carrier. Further, he fails to wrap up and does not have stellar grip strength.

Summary:

Ezring: Versatility is an important trait to have in the NFL. Brandon Smith offers adequate versatility already; further, he can still grow in every aspect of his game. The Penn State outside linebacker is an excellent athlete who flashes against the run, in coverage and as a pass rusher. While he is consistently in position thanks to his traits and adequate play recognition, Smith struggles to finish plays. He practices poor tackling technique and is, consequently, inefficient at the contact point. His lack of experience in coverage also limits him, as he has developed negative tendencies that he must fix to succeed in the NFL. All the same, Smith is an enticing prospect whose athleticism and versatility make him a name to remember during the 2021 season. 

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Background:

Born in Henrico, Virginia on April 12th, 2001 to parents Cynthia and Maurice Smith. Has one brother, Jordan. Brandon Nathaniel Smith enjoyed a stellar high school football career at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Virginia. The Penn State standout was a three-time letterman and two-time captain of his high school football team; moreover, he was ranked by 247Sports as a 5-star recruit, the top high school recruit in the state of Virginia, the top inside linebacker in the country and the 18th-overall player in the nation. Smith was able to participate in both the Under Armour All-America Game and Nike’s The Opening. He was named All-USA first-team by USA Today and All-America first team by MaxPreps as a senior. He was also awarded the All-USA Virginia Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today after his senior campaign. Further, he was awarded the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of Virginia and was a finalist for the 2018 Butkus Award for best high school linebacker. Among several other high school accomplishments, Smith was named all-region and All-Central Virginia three times in his career. During his time with Penn State, the young linebacker has volunteered at elementary schools to serve as a mentor in youth sports programs. Smith plans to major in criminology and hopes to, someday, be an FBI Agent. Penn State’s defensive coordinator has praised the linebacker’s work ethic and his ability to improve every week. James Franklin, head coach, has spoken highly of Smith’s natural ability. 


One-Liners

Ezring: Brandon Smith is an extremely athletic linebacker who offers starter potential and a versatile skill-set; still, he is limited by his inexperience in coverage and his struggles at the tackle point.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Ezring: 7.1 / 8.8