2022 NFL Draft: Brandon Smith Scouting Report

Brandon Smith NFL Draft
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Brandon Smith NFL Draft Profile

Position: Linebacker
Height: 6′-4″
Weight: 250 pounds
School: Penn State

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Brandon Smith 2022 NFL Draft Profile

After spending the past three years with Penn State, linebacker Brandon Smith has decided to take his game to the next level in the 2022 NFL Draft. Smith is coming off the best season of his young career, starting in 12 games while recording 81 tackles and two sacks.

Smith originally joined the college ranks as a five-star recruit. Signing with Penn State, the Virginia native spent most of his true freshman year on the bench before earning a starting role as a Sophomore. Smith started nine games in 2020, recording 37 tackles and two sacks on the season.

Strengths

  • Freakish athlete – posted all-around fantastic numbers during testing;
  • Athleticism shows up on tape – no play he doesn’t have the potential to make;
  • Size to match tight ends in coverage and speed to keep up with running backs;
  • Built for the position;
  • Only 21 – still has plenty of time to develop;
  • Makes it from sideline to sideline in the blink of an eye.

Weaknesses

  • Very unrefined player – won’t compete for a starting role in Year 1;
  • Takes too long to diagnose plays – late to react on a regular basis;
  • Poor fundamentals leads to a high missed tackle rate;
  • Doesn’t trust his instincts, leading to a timid approach in the box;
  • Needs to translate his testing strength to the field.

NFL Comparison: Baron Browning

Teams With Need at Position: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles

Projection: Round 3

Bottom Line on Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith is a boom or bust player with a wide range of outcomes at the NFL level. In two years, he could just as easily be one of the best linebackers in football or a special teams player. Any team drafting Smith would be doing it for his insane upside. The Penn State product absolutely destroyed the NFL Combine, and that elite athleticism is evident all over his tape.

At 6′-4″ and 250 pounds, Smith has the build to play in the box with the speed of a safety. He already knows how to play coverage at a solid level, but this combination of size and speed gives him the potential to turn into a strong run defender. On paper, he can plug gaps in the middle and chase ball carriers to the outside while providing a minor threat as a pass rusher.

Of course, games aren’t played on paper. While Smith has the ability to do just about anything, he still has a lot to learn about the actual position. Smith does not yet trust his instincts, as he’s slow to read blocking patterns and takes a little longer than you’d like to attack the line of scrimmage. Additionally, even when he does charge down, there’s always a hint of self-doubt that keeps him from truly attacking. This, combined with his poor tackling, makes him a liability in the run game.

The good news is that all of Smith’s flaws can be solved with coaching, and his young age and relative inexperience at the position means that it is reasonable to project growth in the NFL. Any team drafting Smith will be doing it with the long run in mind. He probably won’t help much as a rookie, but he could turn into a Pro Bowl starter in a few years.

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