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...So You Drafted Donovan Smith

Welcome to NFL Draft season! We here at Black Shoe Diaries know that you NFL fans can't possibly know about every single college player. That's why we're here to share with you all we know about some of our favorites. Today, we're going to tell you why you made the wonderful decision to draft Donovan Smith!

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Skinny

Hey, team that just drafted Donovan Smith! How you doin'? Everything going well? I hope things are going well, because you just drafted the biggest enigma that Penn State produced in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Here, a little backstory: Smith came to Penn State as a four-star recruit in the class of 2011. He redshirted, then was awesome as Matt McGloin's blindside protector in 2012. There weren't that many growing pains with Smith, as he was really comfortable in the role and was eventually named to every Big Ten All-Freshmen team that was out there.

Then, as a sophomore, he regressed a little. He wasn't a train wreck or anything, it's just when you're a star freshman at the second-most important position on a football field, you don't expect too much regression. If anything, you expect that said player would keep building on their freshman campaign and get even better as a sophomore. That didn't happen with Smith. He was still fine, he just didn't develop into a star. Whatever, it's cool. Sophomore slumps happen.

And then his junior year happened and god almighty. Smith was expected to be the bright spot on a miserable Penn State offensive line, but he struggled for long stretches of time throughout the year. Sure, most of that could be attributed to the fact that he was learning a new system with converted defensive tackles lining up next to him at guard, and he did play a bit better when Miles Dieffenbach -- who you should also draft! -- came back late in the season from a knee injury, but still, he had a largely disappointing 2014, to the point that some heads were scratched when he declared for the Draft.

Still, the dude has talent and potential. Let me explain...

What You're Getting

I'm going to echo what I said in the post about Deion Barnes (who you should also draft!), but tailor it for this post: Smith looks like an NFL left tackle. He is a gargantuan human being -- which is a bit of a knock against him, we'll get to that in a second -- coming in at 6'5" 5/8, 338 lbs. If you're looking for an NFL comparison, look at Washington Football Team OT Trent Williams, who is 6'5", 337 lbs.

Smith had an alright combine, as he was about average in a few of the drills: 5.27 second 40-yard dash and 26 reps on the bench press (27 at Penn State's pro day), most notably. Neither of those are especially great, but he killed it with a 32 inch vertical jump (fifth-best among OL) and a 9'1" broad jump (seventh-best among OL). Between that and his size (Kiper loves his "above average arm length"), Smith is an incredibly intriguing prospect.

As for technique, Smith could use some refinement. Some scouts think the best long-term move would be for him to move to guard, which probably isn't the worst idea that anyone's ever had, but he is going into the league as a tackle. Smith run blocks really, really well. For a guy of his size, he does a good job getting off the line, engaging blockers and clearing a ton of space for running backs. He's not as good of a pass blocker, and scouts knock the way that he handles speed rushers off the edge. However, when he's locked in, Smith does a nice job in pass protection.

This, of course, brings us to the elephant in the room and the biggest knock on Smith: teams really question his motor. It was a complaint that I know I heard from a lot of people in Happy Valley during his tenure at PSU, especially during his junior year, and it appears to be a major concern that scouts have. At times, Smith looks like he has the nastiest mean streak that you'll ever see, but at other times he kind of gets complacent, which leads to him getting manhandled by defensive linemen.

Smith's other major concern is his weight. He came to Penn State weighing 280 lbs. He's up to 338 lbs. now. Of course, you want your offensive linemen to be bigger guys, but nearly 60 lbs. in four years is not ideal. If he loses some weight without sacrificing too much strength, it can only mean good things for Smith.


Keep his weight in check, make sure he's well-coached and figure out if he's a guard or tackle. Do those things and this guy will be a starter within three years.


CBS Sports Draft Profile

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