The Las Vegas Raiders are in a prime position to get two players of top-40 caliber, and defense should be the primary target in round two. One position that needs to receive more discussion for the second-round pick is the interior defensive line. Andrew Billings is underrated, but beyond that, the play in the middle was lackluster. Mazi Smith, who should be sitting at pick 38, is a terrific candidate for this selection.
- 6’3″, 337 lbs.
- Â Class – SR
- Â School – Michigan
- Â Draft Value – 1-2 RD
Mazi Smith could be described as the definition of a freak athlete. At his size, with ideal arm length, he moves with a rare ability. The power in his upper half is out of this world. To go along with that, he possesses staggering agility that allows him to develop a lethal combo of moves. He made it number one on the “College Football Freaks List” by Bruce Feldman. According to the report, he benched 22 reps of 325 lbs. and clocked a 4.41 shuttle and a 6.95 3 cone. These are off-the-chart numbers for someone who projects as a nose tackle. Furthermore, he demonstrates the functional strength needed and has excellent power in his punches. He proved to be a dominant force in run defense at Michigan and has traits that will translate to the pros.
#Michigan DT Mazi Smith is an athletic FREAK.
6â€™3 337lbs w/ a vertical of 33â€ & a 4.41 shuttle (put him 1st among NFL Combine DL last year). Also Benched 325 22 times.
Possesses high-motor & explodes off the ball. Will be a nice pick up 3/4th round.
— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) January 13, 2023
Despite being a high-end athlete, his get-off is quite lackadaisical. It limits what he can do as a pass rusher, and more often than not, he doesn’t show that juice in the pass rush. Moreover, I wasn’t impressed with his hand usage as he was often late and slow. He also doesn’t get significant leverage as he gets caught playing upright. His pass-rush skillset is still a work in progress. He displayed few actual pass-rush moves in college. You really only expect him to be a run-stuffer on day one.
Why the Raiders need to consider Mazi Smith in the second round…Â
Acquiring a talent like Smith would do wonders for this defense. If his pass-rush skillset can expand, he could be a dominant two-way player in the pros. While his stat line isn’t impressive, he has rare talent and passed the eye test on film. I like the idea of acquiring him in the second, as he’d be a day-one starter and could develop into a genuine star.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Paul Sancya
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