A Look At 2018 NFL Draft Prospect Braden Smith As A Potential Selection By The Detroit Lions.
Braden Smith is one of the more interesting prospects on the offensive line in this year’s draft class. The tape he put together at Auburn was quite inconsistent. However, his rare combo of athleticism, length, and build for the guard position will garner looks from many teams around the NFL.
What Does Braden Smith Have To Offer?
At 6’6, 303 lbs, Smith is one of the tallest interior lineman in this class. Since taking over two years ago, Lions general manager Bob Quinn has had a proclivity for adding lineman with length. Taylor Decker (6’7″), Wagner (6’6″), Lang (6’4″), and Graham Glasgow (6’6″) are all on the upper end of their positional size. Smith would fit right in with that mold.
His athletic profile is quite impressive as well. His bench, height, and explosive ability were all among the highest at his position. He caries his weight well. Stronger upper body with solid base. He is not just strong in the bench, his functional strength shows up on tape as well. His issues to this point are mostly mental and technique inefficiencies.
What Would Need To Improve If Smith Were To Be Selected By Detroit
Smith flashes some really good tape at times. However, he really needs to find consistency to his game, otherwise he will struggle to find a starting role in the NFL. The best way for him to do that is improve his fundamentals and get quicker at recognizing what the opposing defense is trying to do to. His failure to recognize blitzes and stunts leaves his pass protection game the most suspect part of it so far. It is something that smart defensive coordinators will endlessly exploit if he does not improve in the area.
The Auburn guard really needs to work on his hand usage. His best blocks come together when it starts with him gaining leverage under the shoulder pads of the defender. But too often his hands are high, which leads to him not sustaining blocks with any sort of consistency in the run game.
I have a fourth round grade on Smith in terms of fundamental ability to this point. However, with his athletic profile being one of the top interior lineman in this years class, he may end up being taken more towards the end of the second round or early third round. To take Smith, you have to have a big belief in your coaching staff to work with him. But, if there is a team that can get him to play with consistent hand usage and work on his recognition of defensive schemes pre-snap, he could become a special player.
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