The Detroit Lions added another pass rusher to the mix, signing free agent Quanterus Smith to join the competition at defensive end.
Smith has bounced around since being a fifth-round pick by the Broncos in the same 2013 draft which brought Ziggy Ansah to the Lions. Injuries have definitely taken their toll on the 6’5″, 258-pound end from Western Kentucky. He spent last season on the practice squad with both Jacksonville and the New York Jets.
I was a big fan of Smith’s during the draft process. At that time I was operating Detroit Lions Draft and included this blurb about Smith in a piece projecting a pass rusher in every round to Detroit (archives are unavailable, sorry),
"Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky-If not for his November ACL tear, Smith could very well have played his way up as high as the second round. He flat-out embarrassed Alabama’s tackles for three sacks, and they weren’t the only ones. Smith has a devastating swim move but also the ability to knife into the B gap. One underrated attribute: he almost never runs past the QB when he is applying pressure, showing the ability to pursue under control and to finish what he starts. As long as the ACL heals properly, and that is not a given, Smith is a legit NFL starter who can threaten double-digit sacks every year. Unfortunately he might not be able to contribute much as a rookie."
My colleague there Darren Page also liked what he saw from Smith. His summary:
"Quanterus Smith notched 12.5 sacks before his senior season came to an end due to a torn ACL against Louisiana-Lafayette. He had a very productive season and was consistently a disruptive force for the Hilltopper defense. Smith is a polished prospect with room to grow. His natural ability paired with his understanding of the game are enough to ensure a middle round pick despite injury question marks. If he can make a full recovery from the ACL injury there will be little to worry about. In his previous three seasons at Western Kentucky, Smith had not missed a game due to injury. The injury will limit him when it comes to draft workouts and off-season activities, but a team who can afford to be patient while he works his way back as a rookie may see it pay off as soon as he gets healthy. His level of production and polished skills tell me he can produce immediately."
Alas, the balky knee has remained an issue. He played sparingly in Denver before being released.
This is a smart, low-risk move by Lions GM Bob Quinn. If Smith can get onto the field, he offers more natural sizzle as an edge rusher than anyone not starting already. Detroit has a pressing need for a pass rush specialist who can finish pressures.