Each day leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we will take a look at prospects that should be on the Carolina Panthers' radar. We will look at roughly eleven prospects per round to give a better idea of potential draftees beyond just the first round.
Here's our schedule for the next 80 days:
1st Round: Feb. 8th - Feb. 21st
2nd Round: Feb. 22nd - Mar. 6th
3rd Round: Mar. 7th - Mar. 18th
4th Round: Mar. 19th - Mar. 28th
5th Round: Mar. 29th - Apr. 7th
6th Round: Apr. 8th - Apr. 17th
7th Round: Apr. 18th - Apr. 27th
Prospect No. 59: DE Elerson Smith
College: Northern Iowa
Height: 6'6" Weight: 262 lbs
Draft range: 5th round
Analysis: Not many folks know about Elerson Smith but he could be one of the most underrated edge rushers in the entire 2021 NFL Draft. In 2019 alone, Smith totaled 63 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 14 QB hits, and five forced fumbles. He's very long and rangy which causes problems for offensive tackles who aren't extremely athletic. Right now, Smith would be a good 3rd down pass rusher but in order to get more playing time in the NFL, he's going to have to fill out his frame and work on some of his technique.
Traits are very important at the defensive end position. Length, flexibility, athleticism; it’s all paramount to on-field success. Those are traits that Smith possesses in spades. Gaining over 60 pounds during his collegiate career, Smith boasts a long frame that should be able to continue to add mass and carry a substantial amount of weight moving forward. The productive FCS rusher is a gifted athlete for his size, explosive in short areas with a lot of speed working around the track. The hand usage for Smith is surprising, showing active hands to work inside of opposing blockers’ frames. More linear than bendy, Smith is a little high cut and lacks transitional quickness to redirect well in space. He will need to continue to get bigger in order to anchor well against NFL offensive linemen. Slightly raw, Smith will need to add more pass-rush moves to his repertoire. With some continued development he could be the day three developmental pass rusher who firmly exceeds early expectations.
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