Nolan Smith DRAFT PROFILE – 2023 NFL DRAFT
Nolan Smith NFL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT INTRODUCTION
Nolan Smith, an outstanding athlete hailing from IMG Academy High School, was a highly sought-after recruit. ESPN rated him as a 5-star recruit, and 247 Sports awarded him a 5-star grade. After finishing high school, he chose to join the University of Georgia football team, which had been eagerly pursuing him.
During his freshman year in 2019, Smith got the chance to play in 14 games, with a total playing time of 287 snaps. He managed to secure eight tackles and five assists, adding 13 stops to his name. Additionally, as a pass rusher, he put up impressive numbers, with 19 total pressures, 10 QB hurries, 4 QB hits, and 5 sacks throughout the season.
The following year, as a sophomore in 2020, Smith played ten games and participated in 180 snaps. He demonstrated his versatility with 11 tackles, 8 assists, and 10 stops. Moreover, as a pass rusher, he tallied 18 total pressures, including 11 QB hurries, 4 QB hits, and 3 sacks.
During his junior year in 2021, Smith played in 14 games and contributed significantly, racking up a total of 499 snaps. He recorded 32 tackles, 11 assists, and an impressive 27 stops. While covering his opponents, he secured one interception and allowed a QB rating of just 68.8. He was also a force to be reckoned with as a pass rusher, with 28 total pressures, 18 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 7 sacks.
Sadly, during Smith’s senior year in 2022, he suffered a torn pec that cut his season short. Despite this setback, he managed to start eight games and play for a total of 188 snaps. He also contributed to the team’s performance with 14 tackles, 6 assists, and 15 stops. As a pass rusher, he recorded 19 total pressures, 12 QB hurries, 5 QB hits, and 2 sacks during the season.
Nolan Smith DRAFT PROFILE
Nolan Smith is an outstanding edge defender with remarkable abilities that make him a versatile and valuable player for the Georgia Bulldogs. One of his greatest strengths is his speed, which he uses to great effect when attacking the edge. He also possesses the flexibility to dip low and avoid the tackle’s reach, which allows him to get to the quarterback with ease.
When it comes to coverage, Smith is a true master, particularly when playing in zone coverage and looking into the backfield. He has an excellent sense of timing, which allows him to make quick and accurate decisions, and his instincts for locating the ball are unparalleled. Despite his relatively small build of 235lbs, Smith has exceptional strength, which gives him the ability to play any edge and linebacker position.
Nolan Smith 40 yard dash– 4.51 SECONDS
Nolan Smith NFL DRAFT PLAYER COMPARISON- Melvin Ingram
SCOUTING REPORT- STRENGTHS
One of the most impressive aspects of the Georgia edge defender’s game is his ability to dominate in run defense. He can be used as a rangy run defender inside, and he is instinctive when it comes to locating the ball, with the quickness to get to it before blockers can react at the second level. He is ferocious when it comes to stopping the run, and his speed and power allow him to hold up well in traffic, engage a block, shed it, and pursue the ball carrier with efficiency.
Smith has a vast array of moves and techniques that make him a formidable opponent against a tackle. His excellent skip move is particularly noteworthy, which he uses to win around the edge and get to the quarterback quickly. He also has an excellent feel to shed blocks and knowing how and when to counter as the play goes on.
One thing that sets Smith apart from other defenders is his unrelenting drive and willingness to take on any challenge. He will always try to plow into the largest piles and has a good knack for ending up glued to the ball carrier, no matter how many defenders are in his way.
His impressive change of direction and quickness allow him to win with inside and outside stick moves, and his good bend enables him to turn a tight corner and take an efficient path to the quarterback.
Overall, Nolan Smith is an exceptional athlete and one of the most dynamic and versatile players in the game. With his speed, power, and versatility, he is a force to be reckoned with on the field and is sure to make a significant impact in every game he plays.
SCOUTING REPORT- Weaknesses
Nolan Smith is a supremely talented and elite athlete, but his production as a pass rusher has only been decent, which is a surprising fact considering his impressive credentials. Over the last two years, he has produced only 9 sacks, despite being the number one edge rusher on the top defense in the country.
He lacks the pop due to his smaller size to anchor, which makes him less effective when covered, and he is at his most efficient when chasing stretch plays to the sideline, especially when left uncovered inside.
Unfortunately, Smith has also experienced some injury concerns, having missed time in both 2021 and 2022.
While he is undoubtedly a valuable player, his effectiveness can be neutralized by running at him, which is a significant limitation to his game.
Smith’s hand usage needs to be cleaner and more coordinated, as he relies far too much on his speed and doesn’t have a complete set of pass-rushing moves. His over-reliance on bull rushes is particularly concerning, and while he may dominate smaller college players, it will not work the same way at the next level.
Smith’s struggles with momentum when met by bigger, stronger linemen are evident, and he all too often takes poor angles, which can limit his effectiveness on the field. Moreover, he has trouble stacking counters with initial moves, which can be a significant limitation in his game.
To take his game to the next level, Smith needs to refine his technique and develop a more comprehensive set of pass-rushing moves. With proper training and coaching, he could become a truly dominant force on the field, capable of making significant contributions to any team he plays for.
CAM SMITH NFL DRAFT SUMMARY
Nolan Smith’s athletic abilities as an outside linebacker are remarkable, as he possesses a combination of speed and strength that is rarely seen.
However, despite his potential, he has yet to become a consistently dominant player on the field. Instead, he relies too heavily on his speed and power to compensate for a limited set of pass-rushing moves, which could be a significant liability at the next level. He can’t consistently win at the NFL level against offensive tackles blocks solely reliant on those raw skills.
- Extremely versatile; excellent in run defense
- Explosive first step to get around the edge in pass rush and create QB hurry
- Super athletic
- Overly reliant on speed to shock blockers
- Lacking hand moves to attack NFL offensive tackles
- Can he win against offensive tackles consistently without stellar supporting cast?
How high will a team take an OLB/edge rusher who’s a bit lacking at pass rush moves even though he’s really tough in the run game? We have him as our 29th overall rank prospect, 5th edge defender, and 7th defensive lineman.
Will he be another Georgia Bulldogs first round pick? If so, a team is prioritizing their belief that his athleticism will translate well and they can develop him. Even though we rank him 29th, we believe he’s likely to drop to the 2nd round. He’s a first round athlete but 2nd round NFL football prospect.