EDGE JORDAN SMITH
Weight: 255 lbs.
Class: Junior (red shirt)
A former three-star recruit out of Lithonia High School in Lithonia, Georgia. Smith initially signed to play for the Florida Gators in Gainesville.
However, Smith was one of the nine Florida Gators charged with felonies, including fraud, so he transferred out of Gainesville and went the JUCO route. Smith was able to be reclaimed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he helped rekindle his NFL aspirations.
At the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Smith measured in with 33 ⅜” arms, an 83 ¼” wingspan, and nine ¼” hands. He stepped into UAB’s campus and was productive right away; he had 89 tackles, 23.5 for a loss, 12.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles in 2 seasons. His 2020 14.5 tackles for a loss with eight sacks were one reason, along with his length, he received an invite to the Senior Bowl.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith had over 50 pressures in both seasons at UAB, totaling 102 pressures. He aligned all over the defensive front for the Blazers. He was First Team All-Conference in 2020 and Second Team All-Conference in 2019. He’s a raw but interesting prospect for teams on day three.
He is a high-cut, long, slender pass rusher who plays with a high center of gravity, a product of his 6’6" height. Smith packs good explosive traits with a solid ability to change direction when his momentum isn’t built up. He is a player who flashes bright with some of the more intriguing pass rushing upside, but it’s not always consistent, and it was against a smaller level of competition.
His size and straight-line speed are excellent foundations for Smith; he tends to use his length well as a pass rusher and as a run defender, but his play strength is marginal at the moment. He wasn’t consistently setting the edge against Conference USA opponents, so there may be a tough transition, in terms of strength, when it comes to the NFL.
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Smith’s run defense was frustrating because he has shown times where he sunk his center of gravity, locked out, and held a firm edge against tackles. However, there were also times when he was getting pushed five yards off the line of scrimmage.
His hands lack violence and pop, and I question his ability to consistently hold the edge on early downs in the NFL (supposing he was tried at 4-3 END). Not the easiest read defender because of his length and solid explosive traits--he is always disrupting the mesh points and is a very good backside pursuit defender.
His vertical speed is exceptional, but I have some reservations about his ability to quickly change direction when his momentum is geared. He showed solid footwork and COD ability on the line of scrimmage, and he combined this with good use of hands--he kept his chest clean and frequently used double swipes to shed contact.
Has counter moves--he used inside counter spins that are sudden, and he also employed a long arm/chop combination that helped him win at the point of attack. He uses length well as a pass rusher.
Smith has pass-rushing upside, but I wanted to see more bend in his lower half, especially his ankles, when dealing with lateral contact. He hit a Rice tackle with a ridiculous tight ghost technique where he bent underneath the tackles punch and quickly got his hips towards the quarterback to make an impressive sack.
Lack of play strength negates an effective bull-rush. I appreciate the competitive nature of Smith as well; he’s always hustling and attempting to make plays on the football.
He wasn’t tasked to cover in college, but he can do so. He’s fluid in his lower half and has enough movement skills in space to have success as a 3-4 outside linebacker dropping to the boundary. His ball production was limited in college (0 passes defended and one interception, according to PFF).
Overall, Smith is a toolsy player who has all the length desired for an EDGE rusher, but his lack of anchor, strength, and ability to effectively play the run hinder his early upside.
His athletic ability is good, wish he was a bit more fluid through contact as a pass rusher, but he has flashed the ability to get off blocks and find ways to win, albeit in the Conference USA. He needs further development.