Three combine DL standouts that should move up the Seahawks board
Seahawks Big Board riser No. 2: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
You don’t win NCAA championships with one great player, and Georgia is no exception. Jalen Carter may be the standout of the Dawg’s defense, but Nolan Smith is the real deal. Playing defensive end in Athens, the 6’2″ 238 pound Smith projects as a speed demon on the edge in the NFL. He ran a blistering 4.39 40 in the combine. Combine that with his ridiculously fast 1.52-second 10-yard split and his 41.5″ vertical, and you have the definition of explosive ability.
The NFL grades him at 6.24, “eventually an average starter”. Compare that to his evaluation from Pro Football Focus, 83.8. Different scale, I know, but that’s .2 points higher than they graded Will Anderson, the defacto number one edge player in the draft. So why isn’t he the top selection for the position? As Mitch Kaiser wrote in his evaluation, he could improve his technique and depend less on his pure speed. Note that Mr. Kaiser wrote this before the combine. Even then, it was obvious that Smith had the speed to burn hapless players attempting to defend the edge.
Smith tore his right pectoral muscle versus Florida in week eight, but he’s already had the injury repaired and is expected to have no lingering effects. Despite missing the last seven games of his senior year, he still totaled 47 pressures in his final two seasons. That tally includes 30 hurries, eight QB hits, and nine sacks. Despite this stellar pass-rush performance, he may have been even better against the run.
He accounted for 15 tackles for a loss in those two years, and PFF assigned him run-defense grades of 90.6 and 82.4 for 2021 and 2022. Oh, and as a junior, his passer rating allowed was 68.8. Oh, and he missed four tackles. Not in one nightmarish game, not as a senior, but in his entire four-year collegiate career in the ultra-competitive SEC. Like Kancey, Nolan Smith is supposedly undersized for the NFL, but he is straight-up savage.