After back-to-back strong seasons in the Big Ten, Brandon Smith declared early for the NFL draft. He seeks to become the latest in a long line of starting NFL linebackers out of Penn State.
A former five-star recruit out of high school, Smith turned down offers from Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and other blue-chip national programs to join the Nittany Lions. He went on to have a productive three years in State College, finishing his with 132 tackles, two sacks, and two combined interceptions and forced fumbles.
ILB Brandon Smith: Scouting Report
In a pass-focused NFL, Smith offers plenty of utility. He displayed good range for a linebacker and can cover the slot when asked. He tested well at the combine, posting 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 36.5-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-8 broad jump. His size offers upside as a pass rusher, though that part of his game remains a work in progress.
Smith needs to do a better job recognizing plays and anticipating the offense, however. Those issues result in blockers locking in on him and keeping him out of the play. As a result, he will probably have a limited role on defense early in his career. But even if those skills don’t develop, he can factor into special teams in a significant way.
Mock Draft landing spots
Mel Kiper/Todd McShay (ESPN): No. 102, Miami Dolphins
“Since this is Miami’s first pick of the draft, I’m going to follow my board and take the best prospect available. Smith has some limitations in coverage, but he will seek and destroy running backs. If the Dolphins are serious about stopping the run in 2022, Smith will help.” — Kiper
Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports): No. 76, Baltimore Ravens
Sporting News: No. 123, Los Angeles Chargers