Vikings Select USC LB Cameron Smith in the 5th Round of the NFL Draft

View photos of Vikings new LB Cameron Smith from USC who was selected in the fifth round.

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Saturday selected Southern Cal linebacker Cameron Smith with the 162nd overall in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Smith totaled 354 tackles (26.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks), 14 pass deflections and four interceptions in four seasons with the Trojans.

Listed at 6-foot-2, 238 pounds, Smith was a four-year starter in 47 games who picked up multiple accolades along the way.

The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention also garnered Freshman All-American honors in just 10 games in 2015 before suffering a knee injury.

In 2016, Smith earned All-Pac-12 Second Team honors and won USC’s 2016 Trojan Way Leadership Award.

The following season, the Roseville, California, native became the first Trojans linebacker to record more than 100 tackles (a team-best 112) in a season since 2012 and third overall since 2004. He garnered All-Pac-12 First Team from coaches and Second Team from the Associated Press.

Smith’s senior season was limited to 10 games because of injuries.

Smith, who was a captain in multiple seasons, became the first defensive player drafted by the Vikings in 2019.

Minnesota dealt the 159th overall pick to New England for the 162nd and 239th picks.

The Patriots drafted Maryland DT Byron Cowart with the selection acquired from the Vikings.

Keep tabs on the rest of the day with the 2019 Vikings Draft Picks Tracker.

NFL.com Player Bio

Smith was expected to be a star for the Trojans after earning High School All-American honors. He actually started building his reputation as a fourth-grader, as he suited up against eighth-graders due to his instincts and toughness. The honors started early in his collegiate career, garnering Freshman All-American and honorable mention All-Pac-12 notice in 2015 (78 tackles, one sack, three interceptions, three pass breakups). The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year only played in 10 games (nine starts) because he had season-ending surgery on torn knee ligaments. Smith somehow returned for the 2016 season opener, receiving second-team all-conference accolades with 83 tackles, seven for loss, and four pass breakups in 13 starts. He was a first-team All-Pac-12 player in 2017, starting 13 of 14 games played (sat out first half of opener due to targeting call in previous year's bowl game). He led USC with 112 stops, 11 of which went for losses, intercepting one pass, and breaking up three passes. He played in only 10 games in 2018, but still landed second-team all-conference notice by leading the Trojans with 81 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and four pass breakups.

Overview

Inside linebacker whose four-year run can best be described as smart and steady. Smith is lacking the physical traits and athletic ability to excite general managers and his tape is hardly splashy. However, he has a keen sense of play development and uses smart angles and proper technique to do his job effectively. He could hear his name called in the middle rounds, but it won't take long for a coaching staff to look beyond his limitations and see a future starter.

Strengths

  • Extremely reliable and consistent as four-year starter
  • Lost weight in offseason, which helped increase his play quickness
  • Play speed is faster than his timed speed
  • Instinctive with smart eyes for early play recognition
  • Isn't easily fooled by counter steps and false keys
  • Efficient in space and only moves when he means to
  • Can defeat blocks with both shoulder slips and strength
  • Has upper-body strength to punch and press linemen off of him
  • Unfazed by jukes and fakes and is reliable tackler in space
  • Possesses awareness and football IQ to stay on the field on third downs
  • Field vision is clear and well-balanced
  • Responsive to quarterback's eyes and harasses the passing lane from zone
  • Finished career with 14 passes defensed

Weaknesses

  • Build is unimpressive and lacking cut
  • Plays with some tightness in his lowers
  • Not an explosive mover and unlikely to test well at combine
  • Lacks trigger juice to light up stat sheet with tackles for loss
  • Below-average burst from directional change
  • Races ahead of cut-off blocks, exposing him to cutback shots
  • Pedestrian top-end speed with range limitations as tackler
  • Needs to be more decisive or risk falling behind the play in NFL
  • Will struggle to prevent separation against pass-catching backs.

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