Nolan Smith NFL Draft Scouting Report
EDGE, Georgia Bulldogs
Nolan Smith is an emotional leader on and off the field for the Georgia Bulldogs. Smith is viewed in high regard by his teammates and coaches as a dynamic leader in the locker room. He brings a level of energy that is not easily replicated. Smith became the starting OLB/EDGE for the Bulldogs in 2021. His impact was obviously felt early on, even on a defense with multiple NFL draft picks.
When studying Smith, the three words I wrote down to capture/describe his game were: physical, violent, and relentless. As a result, Smith is a difficult task to block in the run game, especially for tight ends. His full-body strength is on display consistently but his base is where it begins. Smith digs his feet into the turf and creates a nearly immovable object versus the run. I appreciate the ferocity he plays with because that is not a teachable trait—you either have it or you don’t. He approaches every play with a “you can’t block me” mentality and I love it. To add to his power and physicality, he is an explosive downhill athlete. His first step, when used properly, can propel him upfield and into action quickly. His athleticism is shown when asked to drop into coverage even in small instances but he does not look like a fish out of water.
Smith is a former five-star recruit and finalist for the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year award as a senior. Due to his stellar run defense, Smith projects as a potential three-down defender in year one. He will make his impact felt as a run defender and earn his keep, as he develops in the pass-rush department. Smith has an explosive first step to threaten offensive tackles outside shoulders. His punches land with the power to shock blockers but shedding is still a work in progress. That being said, he is unrefined with his hands to effectively defeat pass blocks with optimal quickness. He’s overly reliant on his first step, length, and power to overcome opponents, which can limit his ceiling to the next level. Becoming more technical with his hands to deconstruct and shed blocks can unlock his full potential at the next level. Smith has admirable flexibility where he can bend around the edges or slice across the blocker to win the inside track.
Projecting to his third year, Smith can be a full-time edge defender that will not come off the field. A fully-developed Smith can be a dangerous weapon to deploy off the edge versus opposing offenses. Smith’s ability to work well in tight quarters or in a wide-nine alignment can put offensive tackles in conflict. Having an edge defender that can drop into coverage, stuff the run, and get after the passer cannot be undervalued.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- An enticing blend of size and athleticism
- One of the most physical players in college football
- A two-way defender, impactful versus the run and pass
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Undeveloped pass rusher
- Can be viewed as a tweener/hybrid defender without a defined role
- Hand-to-hand combat skills need improvement
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 6′ 2”
Weight: 238 lbs
Arm Length: 32 5/8”
Hand Size: 9”
Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):
40-yard Dash: 4.39s
Vertical Jump: 41.5”
Broad Jump: 10′ 8”
Bench Reps: TBD
Ideal Role: Outside linebacker
Scheme Fit: Attacking/slanting assignments in an odd front
TDN Consensus Grade: 81.00/100 (Second-Round Value)
- Parson Grade: 81.00/100
Written By: Damian Parson
Exposures: Oregon (2022), South Carolina (2022), Auburn (2022), Missouri (2022)
Nolan Smith NFL Draft Scouting Report. Add him to your big board here.