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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 29 Alabama State at UAB Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Buccaneers NFL Draft Target: Edge, Jordan Smith (UAB)

With Jason Pierre-Paul in the final years of his career, the Bucs could add depth late in the draft

We’re less than a week away from the beginning of the 2021 NFL Draft, and this time next week we’ll know what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did with the 32nd overall pick.

We know the pick won’t likely be spent on one of my draft prospects this year. Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Frank Darby, Tulane’s Cam Sample, Minnesota defensive back Benjamin St-Juste, Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith, and Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike all figure to be selected in the day two or three range.

The same goes with my prospect today, UAB edge defender, Jordan Smith. But Buccaneers fans know better than most how day two and three guys can help carry a team. So I don’t think anyone will be sleeping on Smith, just because his name isn’t called on Thursday night.

JORDAN SMITH COLLEGIATE CAREER

Smith originally signed with Florida back in 2017 but was eventually suspended indefinitely because of his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme. His participation in the scheme also led to his receiving two-years of probation and a third-degree felony on his record.

Looking to pick up the pieces Smith transferred to a community college in Kansas where he predictably dominated the competition before finding his way to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

For UAB, Smith totaled 89 tackles and 12.5 sacks in two seasons and helped the school secure back-to-back trips to the C-USA title game, winning it in 2020. His performance also earned him a trip to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS

Jordan Smith’s time at the Senior Bowl showed basically what you’d expect from a top college prospect who landed at community college and worked his way up. The physical and athletic tools are there and visibly present while the polish is lacking. Significantly.

His Pro Day confirmed a lot of athletic ability as well, and he’s firmly cemented into his day three projection with a lot of upside if the right coaching staff can unlock his potential.

Of course, he’ll have to continue to show he’s learned from his past missteps as well.

Some were critical of his play on the field during the Senior Bowl game, and while the criticism was certainly earned, there’s also a reason the majority of evaluators leave Mobile Friday night or Saturday morning.

The practices are what matter, and the way they took to coaching during the week. The live game, while entertaining, is the cherry on top. Don’t let it distract you from all the material underneath it though.

During Senior Bowl practices Smith looked the part of a guy you’d expect to be playing at a school bigger than UAB - no disrespect to their program intended.

When you hear people talking about watching one player but having another grab your attention, Smith was one of those guys they’re talking about.

Now, how did he take to NFL coaching? That’s the hard evaluation. It certainly seemed he was doing more freelancing during the game than you’d like, and I can tell you I didn’t witness or hear rumblings of conflict between Smith and the coaches on the field.

At the end of it all, Smith comes away as a project player who will do some special teams stuff early on, but certainly has a ceiling worth reaching for. Not reaching in the draft, reaching as in trying to get there.

WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021

Special teams and hopefully very little in the way of defensive snaps. If Smith gets solid playing time for the defense he joins he’s either the next great NFL edge rusher, or a starter somewhere is injured.

More likely, the second scenario will be the one which plays out, so if your team draft Smith you’ll be wanting to see him on special teams.

THREE-YEAR OUTLOOK

I don’t think its outside the realm of possibility Smith could develop into an NFL starter. Again, it’ll require his demonstrating and application of the lesson he learned at Florida because money doesn’t usually make a man’s character better.

If he was a kid doing dumb things when he left Florida, then he should be fine. If he’s willing to be taught, then he could be really good.

STOCK REPORT

He’s a day three guy, and from what I gather I see a fifth-round selection coming for the UAB standout.

However, just like many others in this year’s class, the spread is massive on guys like Smith. His NFL.com draft profile has him listed as a third or fourth round selection, according to Lance Zierlein. I’m going to pay homage to Zierlein, and use his projection for our poll.

ON THE CLOCK...

Speaking of, this is where Bucs Nation comes in. Taking a look at the roster, the fit, and the projections.

Poll

For Jordan Smith, the Buccaneers should...

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    ...draft him at current projection (late third to early fourth)
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    ...draft him early (third round)
    (6 votes)
  • 48%
    ...take a better player, earlier
    (43 votes)
  • 11%
    ...draft this position, but later
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    ...not draft this position group at all
    (3 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now

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