Mazi Smith DRAFT PROFILE – 2023 NFL DRAFT
Mazi Smith NFL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT INTRODUCTION
Hailing from East Kentwood High School, Mazi Smith was a 4 star football recruit and committed to join the University of Michigan.
However, the transition from high school to college proved to be a difficult one for Smith. In his freshman and sophomore years, he saw little action, playing only six games in total. It was a period of frustration and uncertainty for the young player, who had undoubtedly hoped to make a bigger impact in his first few years at Michigan.
In 2021, his persistence paid off. As a junior, Smith finally got his chance to shine, playing in 14 games and logging an impressive 544 snaps. He was a force to be reckoned with, recording 29 tackles, 14 assists, and making 21 stops. As a pass rusher, he showed his potential, producing 21 total pressures, including 14 QB hurries, 6 QB hits, and a sack on the year.
Building on his success, Smith continued to improve in his senior year, logging playing time in 13 games and an increased total of 575 snaps for the Wolverines. He made 36 tackles, 6 assists, and 30 stops, showing a marked improvement in his defensive capabilities. As a pass rusher, he tallied 23 total pressures, including 17 QB hurries, 5 QB hits, and another sack on the season.
Mazi Smith DRAFT PROFILE
Mazi Smith is a standout defensive lineman with a unique combination of size, power, and quickness. Despite his massive 6-foot-3, 337-pound frame, Smith displays impressive get-off, exploding off the line and getting into gaps before blockers can react. He has been lauded for his crazy athletic skills, making Bruce Feldman’s ‘Freaks List’ at number 1. With rare power and agility, Smith’s feats in the weight room are impressive, including close-grip benching 550 pounds and vertical-jumping 33 inches.
While his size and strength make him well-suited to play and hold well on the nose, Smith’s athleticism allows him to rush the passer as a defensive tackle, providing some secondary interior pass rush. Playing as a three-technique, he has shown the ability to get most penetration, shedding blockers with his strong core and powerful hands.
Smith’s instincts are another standout feature, as he shows excellent awareness and quickly locates the ball. He has the lateral speed to chase down running backs and is a dominant run-stopper who often requires double-teaming. His weight-room strength translates onto the field in terms of his anchor, making him tough to move and a formidable opponent for offensive linemen.
But Smith is not just a run defender. He has some well-established pass-rush moves and uses his powerful hands to drive blockers backward. With his unique blend of size, strength, and quickness, Smith has the potential to make a significant impact in both the run and pass game. His lateral agility and ability to disrupt blocking concepts make him a disruptive force on the defensive line, while his power and quickness make him a formidable opponent for offensive linemen. Overall, Mazi Smith’s talent and athleticism make him a standout defensive lineman with a bright future in the sport.
Mazi Smith 40 YARD DASH- 4.84 SECONDS
SCOUTING REPORT- STRENGTHS
When it comes to Mazi Smith’s abilities on the football field, his strength and physicality are two traits that stand out. As a run-stuffer in the middle of Michigan’s defense, Smith uses his outstanding physical strength to disrupt blocking concepts and reset the line of scrimmage. His heavy-handed punch generates substantial knock-back power in the run game, allowing him to drive blockers into the backfield and create interior penetration.
Michigan relies on Smith to handle two-gap assignments and potential double teams in the run game, a testament to his lateral agility and ability to work down the line of scrimmage in the zone run game. His surprising athleticism for a near 340-pound defensive lineman shows up on twists and stunts, allowing him to free himself up and make plays.
However, Smith’s lack of ideal arm length can limit his ability to effectively stack and shed blocks. To compensate, he must win in close quarters like a boxer with a shorter reach. His trigger at the snap is also inconsistent, putting him behind the eight ball in some reps.
As a pass rusher, Smith is a work in progress. While he has improved each year, his pass-rush skill set is primarily predicated on power and driving blockers into the lap of the quarterback. His powerful club move can knock opponents off-balance and pressure the quarterback, but his hand counters need improvement for better quickness and effectiveness in deconstructing blocks.
Currently, Smith’s two-down appeal as an NFL prospect lies in his high value as a run defender. If defenses continue to run two-high safety sets, he will be valued well. However, his lack of high-end passing-down value may limit his potential as a third-down player in the NFL. While he has some ability to impact quarterbacks with interior pressure, he will need to play quicker and refine his technique for more consistent effectiveness.
SCOUTING REPORT- WEAKNESSES
Mazi Smith’s performance as a defensive tackle reveals a few areas of weakness that require improvement. For one, he can be a bit stiff, lacking the flexibility to truly threaten around the edge when playing at DT in a wide set. This limits his ability to make plays in the backfield and disrupt offensive schemes.
Another area of concern is Smith’s tendency to sometimes fail to locate the ball in the run game. He can be slow to react, taking himself out of plays and leaving gaps in the defense. While he has impressive speed, he lacks the elite suddenness as a mover that is often sought after, which hampers his effectiveness in the pass rush when working one-on-one.
One issue that stands out is that Smith appears to lack a backup plan if his initial move doesn’t work. He can appear uncoordinated in these situations, which can lead to a lack of productivity on the field. Additionally, he sometimes shows a lack of quickness in getting his hands high, leaving blockers with enough time to get under his pads and negate his effectiveness.
Smith’s lack of height can also be a hindrance, forcing him to play a little upright and allowing blockers to win the leverage game. This is an area where he needs to improve his technique and positioning to be more effective on the field.
While these weaknesses may seem significant, they are areas that can be improved with focused training and coaching. Smith’s potential as a defensive lineman is clear, and with the right guidance, he can become a more effective player both in the run game and as a pass rusher. As a large and athletic defensive tackle, he has the tools to be a disruptive force on the field, and with the right improvements, he can reach his full potential and become an even more valuable asset to his team.
Mazi Smith DRAFT Summary
Mazi Smith’s strength, physicality, and lateral agility make him a formidable run-stopper in the middle of Michigan’s defense. However, his limitations in arm length and inconsistent trigger at the snap could hinder his ability to stack and shed blocks effectively. As a pass rusher, he has shown improvement each year but primarily relies on power and needs to refine his hand counters for better quickness. While he has high value as a run defender, his potential as a third-down player in the NFL remains to be seen.
He’s our 47th ranked prospect overall on our 2023 NFL Draft big board.
- Combination of incredible size and athleticism
- Solid power and real push of opposing lineman
- Great lateral agility at the line
- Plays tight
- Lacking as a pass rushing threat
- Relies on raw strength too much, needs to improve handwork