Yesterday’s draft prospect profile was of Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan. In that articles intro I suggested that the defensive end position could be one that proves to be a value pick when the Lions take their turn in the first round at number 13. If that is the case, Missouri’s Aldon Smith could be in play as the possible pick.
Aldon Smith, Defensive End, Missouri
Weight: 263 lbs.
Arm Length: 35 3/8 in.
Hand Size: 9 3/4 in.
40-yard dash: 4.78 sec.
Broad jump: 9’10″
3-cone drill: 7.19 sec.
Vertical jump: 34″
Watch combine workout here
Smith has a chance to turn into a disruptive starting NFL 4-3 end if he can improve his strength and tenacity and become more stout against the run. He’s got so much potential. He’s a fluid, natural pass rusher who overcomes lack of excellent get-off with terrific hand usage, elite lateral-mobility, very good closing speed, and a strong desire to get to the quarterback. Provides some value maintaining outside contain, pursuing from the backside, and making plays outside of the box, but could struggle a bit against the downhill running game. Smith has steadily climbed his way into the first round.
How high a value the Lions would be getting by selecting Aldon Smith depends on which scouting service you trust most. The National Football Post ranks Smith as the number two defensive end in the draft and the number eight prospect overall. The gushing final impression on Smith’s NFP prospect page says it all:
A downright dominant defensive lineman with an impressive physical skill set and great length. Showcases impress savvy, fluidity and violence as a pass rusher and should be able to further develop in the run game and mature into a potential Pro Bowl-caliber NFL defensive lineman.
Is that something you might be interested in?
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock ranks Aldon Smith at number 14 overall, as does ESPN. These two assessments indicate the Lions would be getting a player generally consistent with their spot in the first round rather than the steal the National Football Post indicates. Either way, it looks realistic that Aldon Smith could be in play for the Lions unless someone above them snatches him up first.
The Lions will like his versatility. The National Football Post says it this way:
Also, is a bear to block inside as a down defensive tackle, played some three-technique and has the first step to shoot gaps inside, but it’s his lateral suddenness and length that allows him to consistently slip blocks inside and accelerate toward the quarterback.
ESPN gives him an “exceptional” rating in the category of versatility but explains it noting his variety of moves rather than positional alignment:
Lacks elite first-step quickness but is a very good athlete for his size. Displays upper-echelon lateral quickness. Hands are exceptionally quick. Very effective swim and rip moves. Very compact and flashes some power with his upper body moves.
The scouting reports don’t indicate a glaring hole in his game as it stands now and seem high on his star potential for the future. One can certainly envision him playing a rotational role in the near term and then becoming a star when given a full time opportunity to take over one of the defensive end positions for the Lions.
The Lions certainly seem to have interest in Aldon Smith. Martin Mayhew was present at the Missouri pro day and Smith came into town for a visit on March 28. The visit was especially important because that is the time teams can get updated medical information. He missed some games last season due to a broken bone in his leg. The injury doesn’t seem to be hurting his draft stock but it is something the Lions would need to be comfortable with before making Aldon Smith their first round pick.
Alright, Lions fans. How would you feel about the Lions taking a defensive end in general and Aldon Smith in particular?