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Know Your Draft Prospect: Aldon Smith

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Aldon Smith may be my favorite player in the draft right now. He's a prototypical Giants defensive end, and given the way their defensive line has performed over the years you have to respect that sort of player. He's tall, powerful, and has huge arms. At 6'5" and 260lbs he has plenty of room left to fill out his frame as well. He's also been productive over his short career, notching 11 sacks in 2009 and 6 in an injury-shortened 2010 season. Therein lies the problem though: just 2 seasons of production, and not overwhelming production either. Aldon Smith then is not a finished product by any means and still has a lot of skills and physical ability left to develop, but that's what makes him so intriguing. The best comparison may be Jason Pierre-Paul, who was picked 15th overall last year. Pierre-Paul was more talented but also less developed than Smith, and notched 4.5 sacks in his rookie year, only occassionally getting on the field. 

As a defensive end, Smith isn't a one-trick pony. He can bend the edge, overpower tackles and threaten inside. He uses his hands to great effect, controlling blockers He's relentless throughout a play and will keep working to the ball carrier. He's a solid run defender and a very good pass rusher, at the collegiate level at least. He has all the physical talents to stand out at the next level as well. These are all good reasons for the Bucs to select him, or even move up for him in the draft. However because he's a bit of a project there likely won't be instant success. It will likely take him a while to understand how to play in the NFL, but he'll also probably be asked to start from day one if selected by the Bucs. He's far from pro-ready, and that may be a problem. 

Let's see what some of the more knowledgeable people around the internet had to say about Smith. 

Mocking the Draft argues that Aldon Smith could be a terror as a defensive end at the NFL Level. They see him as an excellent pass rusher, who bases his game on the speed rush to the outside. They also question his strength and his play against the run, but note that he can easily become more powerful.

The National Football Post largely agrees with that view. An instinctive, violent pass rusher who's still a bit raw in some respects - especially the run game. But a potentially dominant player at the NFL level.

We see essentially the same evaluation from The Sporting NewsPro ProspectsNFL Mocks and basically every other scouting report I can find. The only difference of opinion seems to be on how high this will get him drafted. Some seem to hink he's a top 10 selection, while others have him going as low as #25. For my money, the Bucs would be lucky if he dropped to them.