NFL Draft Rewind: No. 8 Nolan Smith

The place they have been ranked: The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star linebacker was ranked second general within the 2019 class behind solely LSU signee Derek Stingley Jr. Smith, Ohio State signee Curtis Grant and Oklahoma signee Mike Reed have been the three highest-ranked linebackers in Rivals’ historical past courting again to 2002.

Recruitment: Smith dedicated to Georgia early, however that’s actually when his recruitment began to take off. Alabama tried to flip him continuously and Clemson was within the combine for a very long time whereas Tennessee, Penn State and Ohio State – amongst others – have been additionally within the combine. The IMG standout undoubtedly took visits and performed the sport for a while, however in the long run caught with the Bulldogs.

Largest draft query: Is Smith massive and bodily sufficient to tackle NFL offensive linemen? That would be the query NFL decision-makers should decide if somebody decides he’s worthy of a top-10 choose.

Reminiscences: There are a ton of recollections from Smith in the course of the recruiting course of as a result of he appeared to be in all places – on the all-star video games, at camps, in any respect the massive occasions. He particularly made a large impression throughout video games when IMG Academy performed.

What stood out most about Smith was simply how a lot he appeared to like being across the recreation. He would chat it up with anyone. He could be engaged in dialog on a regular basis, targeted on drills, and he was an particularly good teammate.

I keep in mind quite a few occasions standing on the IMG sideline throughout video games and it was all the time Smith who could be upbeat and looking out ahead to the following drive. He was all the time encouraging the offense from the sideline – and it was often not too robust as a result of IMG was manner forward.

On the sector, he was relentless. The five-star performed exterior linebacker, however he additionally got here off the sting and had a nonstop motor to make performs and trigger havoc.

What’s attention-grabbing now’s that Smith, regardless of all his capability and manufacturing throughout his time at Georgia, is seen as slightly little bit of a tweener. How does he slot in an NFL protection coming off the sting at solely 238 kilos? The opposite elite excessive first-round picks corresponding to Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson are 253 and 271, respectively.

Smith’s demeanor, focus and character can be contagious in an NFL locker room. Even when he’s not absolutely the desired bodily measurement, he’s going to run via a wall for anyone and be productive when he’s on the sector. Taking a shot on him this excessive could be a sensible transfer, particularly for an Atlanta Falcons workforce that wants assist the place Smith can present it.

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