Smith is an ultra-athletic, big and smart safety who has roamed the secondary as a four-year starter and senior captain for Notre Dame. He is the type of safety who is always involved, using his quickness, recognition and overall body control to react effectively to plays. While he has just adequate speed, he makes up for this deficiency with strong play recognition and anticipation, and he is often in a position to make a play on the ball. Overall, Smith is a smart, athletic defender who should push to start early in a zone-heavy NFL scheme. Expect him to contend for a late first-round selection with the help of impressive postseason workouts and interviews.
Smith is an athletic, smart free safety. He is strong and has great size for the position, and he shows up in the run game as effectively as he does against the pass. He stands out as a lengthy athlete who has range to match NFL speed across the defensive backfield. He is extremely reliable and effective in run support, which comes from his ability to read and react to plays on a quick twitch off the snap. Smith was very productive in college and rarely misses. He is a drag-down tackler who is always around the ball. Although he may have to catch and rarely delivers a blow, he is consistent. As a pass-defender, he is able to read the ball in the air and make plays all across the back end of the defense. He is able to read the quarterback well in zone and uses his athletic ability to turn and run to make plays on the ball. He is a long-strider as a runner and can turn and ignite a quick burst to run down a receiver downfield. He can then utilize his length to make strong plays on the ball. If he is in position, he will make the big interception.
Smith can struggle when covering man to man. He often finds himself in a poor position when the ball is thrown. Short area movements are of a concern somewhat, so he will be much better in a read-and-react zone defense in which he can rely on instincts and recognition more than athletic ability. While he shows up as a solid athlete in every other aspect of his game, his technique in man coverage will expose some inconsistencies in his footwork, as he often relies too heavily on his recover ability and overall length to make plays on the ball. Though he is a somewhat fluid athlete, he can be beaten by quick-twitch and explosive movers.
Analysis from NFL.com.
NFL Network's Peter Schrager highlights some of the more interesting players to watch at next week's Combine, including North Carolina A&T RB Tarik Cohen.