Pass Rush Skills: An athletic freak that possesses tremendous quickness and lateral movement. Proves to be a huge problem for linemen because of his ability to quickly execute inside/outside moves and effortlessly bounce them to the opposite side. Has an explosive first step and shows good flexibility. Displays a very good heavy handed club and arm over move. His club is extremely powerful and can knock linemen off balance. Doesn’t often attempt to flatten out and bend the corner, but that can be attributed to playing half of his snaps at Defensive Tackle. He’s frequently in the backfield and causes a lot of disruption. Constantly forces the quarterback to make snappy decisions and hurry throws. Could get a little bit more violent with his hands. Also, needs to develop some counter moves and learn to consistently stay low out of his stance.
Versus the run: Surprisingly stout against the run. Even with his tall and lean frame, he finds a way to extend his arms and get underneath linemen’s pads. Does a nice job of stringing plays out to the sideline, forcing ball carriers back inside. Stacks and sheds blockers effectively. Keeps linemen away from his feet and shows good balance. Can play sideline to sideline and has the speed and agility to make plays on the opposite hash. Shows excellent closing burst. Protects from the cutback lanes and sets the edge well. Tends to stand up and play high, automatically conceding leverage. Needs to work his hands activity. Also, needs to do a better job of coming under control and securing the tackle. Is only a sophomore and his body is still developing so his frame has room for growth.
Versatility: Very athletic. Was recruited as a tight end as well as a defensive end. Played all four defensive line positions at Missouri, but is not big enough to do so at the next level. Possesses the size to play defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Has shown the ability to stand up and play in underneath zone. Is a little stiff in the hips, but shows enough fluidity to play in space.
Instincts/Motor: Still developing his instincts. With only two years of college ball under his belt, he will continue to grow. Even at this point, he recognizes the run well. Reads plays quickly and attacks them down hill. Shows the ability to read screen plays. His motor is high end when rushing the passer. Motor tends to wane some when trailing the play.
Intangibles: BIG 12 1st Team AP All-American. BIG 12 2009 Freshman of the Year. Good kid on and off the field.
Overall Stock: Aldon Smith lacks experience. After two seasons of playing collegiately, he has decided to enter the draft. While his skills and instincts are raw, Smith has shown the propensity to get after the quarterback. His quickness and ability to move laterally is amazing for a guy his size. He has a lot to offer a NFL team. Smith is the kind of player that can develop into a premier pass rusher in the league. He also has the athleticism to stand up and play in the 3-4. There is a lot of upside to this young man. If he can stay focused and work at his craft, he’ll have a successful career, whether that be in the 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Expect the Commissioner to call Smith’s name on day one.
NFL Comparisons: DeMarcus Ware and Jason Pierre-Paul