Detroit Lions 2018 NFL Draft Profile: Guard Braden Smith
A potential opening on the interior offensive line means the Detroit Lions are on high alert. I see a good fit for their new blocking scheme.
Many college football fans were surprised by how well the Auburn Tigers did this past season. One thing that was always clear was how good senior right guard Braden Smith is. The Detroit Lions could use a man like him.
Smith makes for a great fit now that new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson is incorporating more of a power blocking approach. Auburn mostly ran power themselves. He’s not just a great fit, he’s a great player with a great resume.
The 2017 first-team All-American/SEC performer has been a solid three-year starter at right guard. On a play-to-play basis, he even kicks out to right tackle. As a freshman, he took most of his reps as the backup left tackle, worked as the jumbo extra blocker and eventually started the bowl game at right tackle.
Durability certainly hasn’t been an issue, missing zero games. That’s 53 games and 41 consecutive starts (39 at RG, 2 at RT) in a row.
Smith is a brute at the point of attack and is a weight room warrior. The power he generates in the run game is easy to spot on film and is his best attribute. In pass protection, he’s no slouch either, showing great ability to mirror and recover.
Weaknesses are also easy to point out. Smith is good at overpowering opponents but doesn’t have the combative hands that guards need in the trenches. He’s also thrown off by who to block during stunts, picking up blitzes and has slightly slow reactive skills.
Luckily for Smith, his issues are fixable through coaching and focus. His size (6’6”, 303), strength and athleticism means he can hold up between guard and tackle. Guard is his best fit, in particular the right side.
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Wherever he ends up, Braden Smith projects as a reliable day-one starter at guard with some starter/backup potential at tackle. The Detroit Lions need both.