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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Jordan Smith

  • The Draft Network
  • December 31, 2020
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Jordan Smith began his career as a member of the Florida Gators but was one of nine players suspended for the 2017 season due to his role in an alleged credit card fraud scheme. He attended JUCO before landing at UAB, where he emerged as one of the top defenders in the AAC in 2019 and 2020. Across 21 games, he racked up 89 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. Smith’s blend of size, length, effort, and athleticism makes him an appealing edge defender at the next level that best fits in a base 3-4 defense that incorporates hybrid fronts. With that said, there is some notable rawness to his game when it comes to having a rush plan, deploying pass rush moves, and processing. Smith is a highly appealing piece of moldable clay, but there is plenty of room for him to grow and he’ll need to in order to become an impact playmaker in the NFL on every down and not just a situational guy. At the end of the day, Smith’s toolbox is loaded and has a chance to be a steal in the right situation. 

Ideal Role: Developmental rush linebacker.

Scheme Fit: 3-4, hybrid fronts.


Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: Tennessee (2019), Louisiana Tech (2019), Florida Atlantic (2019), Miami (2020), Louisiana Tech (2020), Central Arkansas (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Louisiana Tech (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: Miami (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Smith is quick and fluid when releasing out of his stance. That, combined with stride length, leads to good vertical push up the arc and places some stress on blockers to reach their set points. When he anticipates the snap and sells out to rush the passer, he gets up the arc in a hurry. 

Flexibility: Smith is quite flexible for his size and he has the ability to work his hips through tight angles. With that said, there is some stiffness that he battles through. His upper body is loose and he can diminish his surface area, which enables him to dip and rip through edges. 

Hand Counters: Smith’s best move is a club-swim combo and he has flashed a hump move, bull rush, spin, dip-rip, and push-pull, but activating his hands and developing his run plan is still a work in progress. When it comes to timing, placement, and stringing together moves, Smith has notable room to grow. The flashes are exciting but he is far from consistent. He has the tools to be dynamic with his hands, he just needs to get coached up. 

Length: Smith features exceptional length which shows up when he gets his hands in throwing lanes and how it impacts his tackle radius. With that said, he needs to weaponize it more consistently as a pass rusher and run defender to keep separation from blocks and enable him to execute his rush plan. Smith has vines for arms. 

Hand Power: Smith is a violent striker but he has sufficient pop in his hands. There are reps where he wins with first contact and it enables him to dictate the snap. He needs to deploy his hands more effectively to clear contact more consistently. 

Run Defending: Smith’s long, lean, and gangly frame often works against him when it comes to defending the run and setting firm edges. With that said he is terrific at slipping blocks and finishing, but it often comes at the expense of him getting out of his run fits. There are processing issues against the run where he fails to read the block and respond correctly, oftentimes getting too far up the field. Smith is terrific working down the line of scrimmage in backside pursuit. 

Effort: Smith competes with top effort on every rep. I love his pursuit effort and he always commits to chasing plays and getting to the football. You won’t ever see him pack it in. 

Football IQ: Smith isn’t the most natural when it comes to processing blocks and reading the set of offensive tackles. His rush plan is underdeveloped and lacks technical refinement. He often looks calculated in coverage drops and when stringing rush moves together. 

Lateral Mobility: Smith has excellent lateral quickness, which helps him chase down the line of scrimmage and work toward the sideline. That, combined with his length, helps him close in a hurry. 

Versatility: Smith is experienced working out of a two- and three-point stance, but I find him to be far more explosive releasing out of a three-point stance. He has appeal in odd and even fronts, but his run defense skill set translates best to a 3-4 outside linebacker role. Smith has the potential to “do it all” with development. 

Prospect Comparison: Mathias Kiwanuka (2006 NFL Draft, New York Giants)


TDN Consensus: 75.63/100

Kyle Crabbs: 76.50/100

Joe Marino: 76.50/100

Jordan Reid: 75.00/100

Drae Harris: 75.00/100

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