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2015 NFL Draft: Scouting Preston Smith, Mississippi St. Defensive Lineman

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Could the Broncos have some interest in the Mississippi State defensive lineman?

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

One prospect who could interest the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft is former Mississippi State defensive lineman Preston Smith. He is a 6'5", 271lb defensive lineman who is considered one of the more intriguing second-tier defensive line prospects in the draft. Smith is ranked as the 33rd overall prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft according to CBS Sports, and is ranked as the 5th best defensive end in the draft.

During his four-year career at Mississippi State, Smith totaled 134 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown, seven pass deflections, and 5 forced fumbles. Smith's best season came in 2014 when he totaled 48 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown and 2 forced fumbles. Preston Smith was selected to the first-team All-SEC, and also attended the 2015 Senior Bowl where he totaled 5 tackles and 1 sack.

Preston Smith:

Defensive End, Senior, Mississippi State

Height: 6'5" Weight: 271lbs 40 time: 4.74 seconds(Top performer at the NFL Combine)

Arm Length: 34 inches Hands: 10 5/8"

Bench Press: 24 reps, Vertical Jump: 34 inches

Broad Jump: 121.0 inches(Top performer at the Combine) 3 Cone Drill: 7.07 seconds(Top performer at the  NFL Combine)

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.28 seconds 60 Yard Shuttle: 11.70 seconds(Top performer at the NFL Combine

Film Room:

Preston Smith vs Kentucky (2014)

Preston Smith vs Texas A&M (2014)

Scouting Report:

Strengths:

  • Had a great combine. Tested very well. Showed strength, athleticism and explosiveness.
  • Has very long arms(34") and huge hands(10 5/8").
  • Uses his long arms and big hands to his advantage.
  • Technically sound with his hand placement.
  • Uses a variety of moves to get to the passer.
  • Holds up well in the run game.
  • Anchors well against double teams holding his own.
  • Does well at setting the edge.
  • Versatile player. Can play DE in a 3-4 and can shift inside on passing downs.
  • Has a good motor.
  • Is a sound wrap-up tackler.
  • Active hands as a pass rusher.
  • Can be a disruptive player if asked to be a gap player.

Weaknesses:

  • His athleticism doesn't always translate on film.
  • He is stiff and does not have the pass-rushing skill/moves/explosiveness to be a defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
  • Doesn't have the power to bull rush offensive lineman.
  • Takes a little while to get up to full speed.

Does Preston Smith fit with the Broncos?:

I think he would fit in very well.

Smith is strictly a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. He will be able to shift inside on passing downs as well. I think he also has the ability to be a very good one gap 5-tech in Wade Phillips defense. He will need to bulk up another 10-15ish pounds though.

I understand the Broncos added veteran depth this offseason. Antonio Smith and Vance Walker are expected to be the main backups to Derek Wolfe and MalIk Jackson this offseason. However, I wouldn't call Walker or Smith locks to make this roster, and Wolfe and Jackson are both free agents at the end of the year. So adding a young guy who can potentially fill in next season could be a priority for the Broncos.

I view Smith as a late first to early second round pick, so I believe he could be in play for the Broncos in the first round. He could fall into the second round, but probably will be long gone by the time the Broncos pick in the second.