NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31:  Nolan Smith #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Vanderbilt Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31: Nolan Smith #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Vanderbilt Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Bulldogs’ Nolan Smith Is Playing The Wrong Position

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Nolan Smith is lining up at the wrong position for the Georgia Bulldogs.

This is the reason his ability is not translating to big production, and this statement is backed by statistics.

🚩In his three-seasons prior to 2022, Smith has only produced 8.5 sacks🚩

He is raw – – too raw – – as an edge.

Smith is not showing any polish (pass rush moves) or the speed it takes to win the edge or to demolish the pocket from the inside.

He additionally shows little to no real power at the point of attack.

In other words, he is not sacking the quarterback, or creating pressure nearly enough against college-level competition to be considered an elite edge rushing prospect at the next level.

What position should Smith be playing?

He’s a run-and-hit outside 4-3 (four down defensive linemen and three linebackers) SAM (Strong Side) or WILL (Weak Side) linebacker if I’ve ever seen one.

The guy can run like the wind in the open field.

He even carried a vertical coverage of a wide receiver down the sidelines against Kentucky.

Smith looks awesome dropping into coverage running around in his domain.

He would be ideal covering tight-ends and ranging from sideline to sideline blowing up backs on outside running plays and screens.

He also fills holes in the run game very well from the outside.

This drops Smith out of the first-round

Trying to project players to positions in the NFL they haven’t shown on film in college is a risky proposition.

While Smith promises to wow at his pro day and pre-draft workouts, and he is sure to be spectacular running around the little orange cones, it has to show on game film to be taken seriously.

Just having the raw athletic ability is only half the battle.

This probably will not stop some NFL team out there from taking Smith in the first round, who will fall in love with his speed, burst, and athletic ability.

I wouldn’t do it based on the fact Smith’s raw ability hasn’t translated into the kind of production that’s needed to be considered a true difference maker.

Got to love his attitude

I can’t tell you how many guys in the NFL look like they are just out there going through the motions for a paycheck.

You have to love the attitude Smith has for the game (and the effort he shows on game film).

Winning should be the bottom line – – and it needs to be the bottom line – – and it is to Smith.

#4 Nolan Smith 6-foot-3, 235 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Grade: Second-Round – Early Fall 2022 Report

First Round Mock Big Board: TBD

Projected by 69.9% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of September 24, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: Kentucky, Clemson and Arkansas (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation)

2021 stats: 55 tackles (31 solo, 24 assists), 1 pass defended, 1 INT, 3 Forced Fumbles, 3.5 sacks (27 pressures georgiadogs.com)

Level of competition: High

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report:

Spirited defender with raw speed, effort, and athleticism. Coming off the edge standing or with his hand in the dirt, tended to get stalemated on both sides of the line. Created little impact at the point of attack. Used hands but rarely won through the back door or was able to make a difference through the inside gaps. Disappeared on the edge too often. Showed he could drop very well into coverage and showcase his speed, range, desire, and athleticism. Displayed a short-area burst. He was much more effective looking against the run than the pass. Scrappy and did his best to fight through trash to make a difference. Solid wrapping tackler. Got overpowered and driven out by determined big men. Did not look like he belonged in the trenches, but he has a lot of pure ability.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. Sack and pressure production
  2. Does he show any real power at the point of attack?
  3. Does he show any pass rush moves?
  4. Does Georgia move him an outside linebacker role?

Smith is an ideal high second-round pick who can move the meter in the right position.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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