Raiders Scouting: Nolan Smith

Raiders Scouting Report: Nolan Smith, A Great Fit in Patrick Graham’s Scheme

Depending on whether a veteran signs with the Las Vegas Raiders, there are many options with this upcoming draft. EDGE will be one of those options, as Chandler Jones had quite an underwhelming season. If Las Vegas acquires a veteran, the subsequent extensive discussion will be about which non-QB the seventh pick should be. Here, we dive deep into whether Nolan Smith is a good option for that pick.

Raiders Scouting: Noland Smith’s Profile

  • Size – 6’3″, 235 lbs.
  • Class – SR
  • School – Georgia
  • Draft Value – 1st RD

Strengths

Despite being undersized, Nolan Smith does not play like it and brings a handful of outstanding physical traits to the table. He is a fluid athlete with an elite burst and exceptional get-off for a prospect. In addition, Smith showed he could get low, bend the corner, and play with flexible hips. You’d think he’d lack play strength and struggle in run defense, but he surprisingly possesses stellar functional strength and graded out very well in run defense, per Pro Football Focus. The combination of quickness and strength alone proved too much to handle for many tackles. As you’d expect for his prototype, he also excels in coverage, allowing him to play a hybrid LB role in the Raiders’ scheme. Additionally, he has some of the best run instincts you’ll ever see in a prospect and can consistently set the edge.

Weaknesses

Due to his lack of length, he’ll struggle at the point of attack and may never have the best pass-rush moves. Playing for Georgia, he didn’t consistently show off actual pass-rush moves and relied too much on pure athleticism. When Smith did try to pull off pass rush moves, he never showed the ability to counter. While he showed flashes, he only occasionally converted speed into power. Another disadvantage is that he played for Georgia, which had a lot of talent around him. Transitioning to the NFL should be a challenge, especially if he’s going to be asked to gain weight. However, the upside to playing in this scheme is that he won’t likely have to gain weight.

Should the Raiders draft Smith?

Nolan Smith has many desirable qualities, especially when projecting him in the Raiders scheme. As Las Vegas runs a hybrid-style defense, athletic edge rushers who can drop into coverage are required. Due to this, he would be an excellent pairing with the Las Vegas Raiders, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like good value at pick seven. This is because he tore his pectoral muscle in week nine and is projected to go in the late first. Additionally, there should be better edge rushers available at pick No. 7. Even though he brings tremendous value as a player, unless Las Vegas trades down, it isn’t worth that high of a pick. With that being said, if he falls to the late first or early second, it would be an easy trade-up.

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*Top Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

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