Marcus Smith DE Louisville #91
Size/Athleticism: Average height but long arms add to his length and improve his ability to disrupt passing lanes and keep linemen from getting into his chest. Listed at 252 in college and weighed in at 251 in college, but looks a little lighter than that on film. If he’s gained weight, will his impressive mobility remain?
Run Defense: Lacks the strength to consistently hold his ground at the point of attack and can fairly easily be moved off his spot, especially when lined up with his hand on the ground and immediately engaged with a lineman. Does an adequate job shedding blocks and making plays in pursuit. Keeps his eyes on the backfield and reacts appropriate. Takes proper angles and shows an impressive closing burst. Knows when to keep pace on the edge to close off a seam and when to turn on the jets to close on the ball carrier.
Pass Rush: Extremely explosive edge-rusher. Elite first step and blazes past slow-footed offensive linemen. Shows elite balance and easily dips his shoulder to turn the corner. Played in a very favorable scheme (and against modest competition) to pad his stats. Often lined up from the seven-tech spot and even from the wide-nine position. Times the snap extremely well and often the first defensive player to react. Doesn’t show many pass-rush moves and gets shut down fairly easily if a lineman is able to shut down his initial rush off the edge, and especially if they’re able to get into his chest and engage him.
Versatility: Among the most versatile front-seven players in this draft class. Primarily played with his hand off the ground, in both 4-3 and 3-4 base sets. But also lined up with his hand on the ground 4-3 sets. Has plenty of experience dropping into both zone and man coverage, even against slot receivers. Occasionally lines up from the inside linebacker position to blitz and often wins with an explosive first step.
Intangibles: Originally recruited as a quarterback, but shifted to linebacker and defensive end very early in 2010 season.
Durability: Missed time with an ankle injury in 2011. Missed time early in 2013 season with undisclosed injury.
Comments: Smith has limited experience on the defensive side of the ball as a converted quarterback. He burst onto the scene with a breakout year in 2013 and may only be scratching the surface of his potential. He has the tools to be a quality edge-rusher, and that’s despite limited moves. Once he refines his technique, he could be a legitimate pass-rush threat at the next level. He should make an immediate impact at the next level due to his versatility. He has the rare ability to line up all over the field and creative defensive coordinators will love what he brings to the table.