Pros: Bounds up quickly off the snap and engages well inside. Has a better than average kick-step and dropback in pass protection and has a good arc when keeping edge rushers out of the play and into the pocket. Gets a wide base and turns the corner very well with excellent footwork. Gets to the second level and locks on effectively and quickly; runs like a tight end upfield. Doesn't get consistent pad level, but this is actually an indicator of how well he uses his hands; even when he loses the leverage battle, he can use his hands to fend off defenders. Defends swim and rip moves very well by repositioning and using his short-area agility. Gets outside and blocks out very well in zone situations. Pulls and traps well, though he'll be better with motion-blocking as he develops more inline power.
Cons: Smith isn't consistent in power situations - he doesn't cut-block specifically well and he can be bulled back. Size (6-foot-5, 280 pounds; he's since bulked up to 307) was a concern and probably a root cause. The upside is that he's got the perfect frame for it. Blocks better and more quickly out of a two-point stance -- this may be a coaching point or a real point of doubt among some teams, but it's something definitely worth mentioning. Tends to wrestle and dance with defensive linemen more than he pops and stops. Hasn't played on the 27 pounds he gained after his college career.
What he brings to the team: USC doesn't play a spread offense, but right now, Smith projects best as a pure zone/spread blocker. He's going to have to increase his power and put together a few technique issues, but there's no question that he has the speed and agility to play well in any coordinated motion scheme. The Williams comp is based on his play at this point in time; the question Smith will have to answer is whether he can transcend the size and strength concerns that Williams hasn't, and that USC alum Charles Brown is still adjusting to in New Orleans. It's a difficult transition, but Smith could be the best of this tackle class down the road if he can make it.
Is it the right pick? Short-term and long-term, maybe. Smith can replace Marc Colombo(notes) now and eventually move up and replace Doug Free(notes) on the left side. The Cowboys desperately needed help on the offensive line, and this is an outstanding future pick. The question is whether he's a best fit for Dallas' power scheme -- Boston College's Anthony Castonzo(notes) might have been a better choice.
The rest of the top 10 picks
• 1. Cam Newton -- Carolina Panthers
• 2. Von Miller -- Denver Broncos
• 3. Marcell Dareus -- Buffalo Bills
• 4. A.J. Green -- Cincinnati Bengals
• 5. Patrick Peterson -- Arizona Cardinals
• 6. Julio Jones -- Atlanta Falcons
• 7. Aldon Smith -- San Francisco 49ers
• 8. Jake Locker -- Tennessee Titans
• 10. Blaine Gabbert -- Jacksonville Jaguars
Posted Jul 2 2012
Posted Jul 3 2012
Posted Jun 21 2012