There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for senior edge rusher Dawuane Smoot, Illinois Fighting Illini.
DE-Dawuane Smoot, Illinois 6’3” 265 lbs.
At the start of the 2016 season, many scouts had been quite impressed with his production in 2015: fifteen tackles for loss, eight sacks and three forced fumbles. Smoot was given a second round grade by the draft advisory board his junior year, but decided to come back for his senior season to bump himself into the first round consideration. While his tackle numbers went up (56), the rest of his production decreased (five sacks and two forced fumbles). Because I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, let’s break down what I saw in the four games I reviewed of the senior defender: 2016 contests versus Nebraska and Michigan along with two 2015 games against Wisconsin and Iowa. All of these videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. These are my thoughts:
Cons: For a man his size and the position he plays, Smoot has small legs and lacks power to anchor the line of scrimmage (gets knocked back or re-routed the long way to make a play). This limits him to play on a 4-3 line as I did not see the balance or foot speed needed for him to play at OLB in a 3-4 system. The defender does a lot of guessing or is just plain over-aggressive as to where the ball is going and against better opponents got washed out a lot due to this. The 2016 Michigan offensive line held his production to a single tackle; most of that unit will be playing on Sundays, but the defensive end rarely won when faced with that kind of adversity.
Pros: The defender has a good, quick first step off the line of scrimmage and uses his long arms to keep blockers off his body. He played either a seven or five technique (wide off the line outside of last man on the line or heads up versus the tackle) and usually used a three-point stance to spring into action. His quick hands used an almost Karate Kid “wax on/wax off” motion to disengage most times, but then used spins, swims, and good bend to get around the offensive line. The 2017 Senior Bowl invite works down the line well and seems to excel at stunting inside. Smoot hustles to find the ball carrier, hits hard, and likes to dislodge the pigskin from whomever has it. As a pass rusher, the defensive end flashes burst towards the quarterback and gets his hands up to knock down passes when he can’t get home.
Overall impressions: I see more of a situational pass rusher who should kick inside on long distance downs than a workhorse 4-3 defensive end. Smoot needs to get much stronger and refine his technique before he will make a major impact at the next level or your dynasty squad. He is a primary candidate for fantasy leagues with taxi squads to spend all of 2017 there to see if the defender can improve his skill set. I have him listed as my 12th best rookie defensive linemen at the time of this scouting report.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next week, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.