NFL Draft

Year One Impact: OLB Sutton Smith

The Steelers are well……stealing out here in the draft on Day 3. They needed ILB depth, and they are now double dipping here with addition of Sutton Smith, who brings about as much impact as a sixth rounder could have ever brought. I know we like to think talent warrants a roster spot, and while that certainly is true, versatility is also a huge part of who can make the team and make an impact and who can actually just walk down the road to another career other than football.

Sutton Smith exemplifies that versatile aspect of the NFL. If you want to survive as a late rounder, compressing multiple roles into your game and doing most of those roles well is a great way to get noticed and make a roster, and it is why I consider this pick an absolute steal for the Steelers.

For all intents and purposes, Smith would have been a 4-3 OLB more than likely if he had gone there, either a SAM or perhaps a WILL, and the comparisons to Joe Schobert are not only going to come in, but they are incredibly apt as well. Smith’s movement in space is great. He has fantastic lateral mobility and is a really natural, smooth operator in space. You love to see that in a guy who needed to be that in order to make it in the NFL. He has real juice and explosiveness off the snap that will allow him to have some really nice range to his game. His tackling is not bad either, and although he does not have the biggest tackling radius, it is not terrible. Lastly, this is a smart, savvy football player who knows how to read keys such as guards and other things. He can make it.

However, the biggest place that Smith might make his impact is the fact that he is a good speed rusher with bend and good burst. I do not believe that he will blitz all that often due to his size and frame, but he can do it since he has the juice and experience to do so. Also, when he dropped back into coverage, he was surprisingly natural.

Smith, in his first year, should be a fantastic special teamer. He has the tackling ability, the tenacity, and the ability to move in space to be that and should be active on game day. This is a guy who makes the roster and can impact the team from day one with versatility.

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