This film study references to the following video highlights:
(Elerson Smith is #16.)
The Giants continue to add talent to their EDGE room after they spent their fourth-round selection on Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith. The long, incredibly athletic Smith hasn’t played college football since the 2019 season due to COVID-19 relegating the FCS programs to play in the Spring.
Smith’s combination of lower body explosiveness, wing span, quick get off, and long frame are unique characteristics that pose high upside with the right development, especially as a situational pass rusher.
These traits were evident at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he competed well against some of the best seniors in the nation. Many knew little about Smith, but it didn’t take long for his name to be known. He did well in team drills - shooting interior gaps and getting horizontal while showing the ability to reduce his surface area and play with a low center of gravity (for a tall player).
Smith showed pop in his hands, pass-rushing counters, and a more advanced pass-rushing repertoire than one would expect from a prospect coming out of UNI. Smith made himself a lot of money down at the Senior Bowl, and the Giants may be the beneficiary.
Elerson Smith had 75 pressures in his last two seasons in college while adding 37 tackles and 14 sacks.
Smith’s length comes up in the first clip of the video; he takes advantage of a poor pass set and chops the outside arm of the tackle, taking a good angle into the pocket. The quarterback feels the pressure and steps up, but Smith uses his length to get a hold of the quarterback and earn a sack.
At the 40 second mark, you can see the variety of moves that he employs as well; a quick double swipe to the outside, assisting the tackle’s momentum up the arc, while he goes back inside and uses quickness to beat the guard into the pocket. At 1:45, Smith converts speed to power and turns the tackle around; he starts by attacking the half-man up the arc and then works back inside while completely turning the tackle around.
Then at the minute mark, you can see the quick get off and the ability to dip his inside shoulder and corner into the pocket with pure speed; yes, the competition isn’t as good, but the quickness and burst is still more than apparent.
He shows the bend, explosiveness, and ability to move through contact on that play. I love how he used his inside hand to keep his chest clean while moving up the arc - solid aiming point by Elerson Smith.
At the 2:!8 mark, Smith wins around the edge after lining up as a 4i-technique which is on the inside shoulder of the tackle. The path to the quarterback is difficult around the edge here, but Smith wins with bend and speed. I also love seeing how Smith uses his length to disrupt passing windows when he can’t get home.
Smith has many pass-rushing upside and intriguing traits that should be interesting in Patrick Graham’s scheme. His ability to move laterally, maintain a low center of gravity, and use his active hands to defeat blocks make him a fun option on stunts/twists.
He can also drop into coverage and execute zone flat and middle/hook assignments; he didn’t do it often in college, but he is fluid enough to do it to the boundary. He should be a good situational pass rusher for the Giants in 2021, with upside to grow.
It isn’t on the YouTube video, but Smith struggled a bit in 2019 with run defense, and that's at a lower level of competition. More undersized offensive lineman did a solid job raising his center of gravity when he attempted to set the edge; this may be an issue early on in his career. Actually showed some ability to anchor down against the run at the Senior Bowl, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the concerns.
The jump from full-time UNI player to NFL professional may be a tough transition, but I believe that Smith can make the transition easier; he is reportedly a high character player. He has all the athletic ability desired for an EDGE, and he’s coachable. Smith should be a fun weapon for Patrick Graham along the defensive front.