Finding Broncos: Preston Smith, DL

In the latest Finding Broncos, MHH Analyst Erick Trickel takes a look at Mississippi State's Preston Smith. Smith is one of Trickel’s most underrated, under-hyped and under-talked about players in this draft. Find out why and how he could fit with the Denver Broncos.

Preston Smith, DL, Mississippi State
Measurements:

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 271 pounds

Arm Length: 34 inches

Hands: 10-5/8 inches.

NFL Combine Results:

40-yard dash: 4.73

10-yard split: 1.6

3-cone drill: 7.07

20-yard shuttle: 4.28

60-yard shuttle: 11.7

Broad jump: 121 inches

Vertical jump: 34 inches

Bench press (225 pounds): 24

NFL Pro Day Results : N/A, only did position drills.

College Stats:

2014: 42 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 2 INT’s, 1 FF, 1 TD

2013: 44 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 1 FF

2012: 35 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF

2011: 7 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 FF

Pros

The biggest strength to Preston Smith’s game is his versatility. While at Mississippi State, he lined up everywhere in the front seven in multiple fronts and was asked to do a little bit of everything. He is very stout against the run, and capable of anchoring the defensive line.

He has long arms and he uses them well, winning battles with leverage and strength. Smith is very technically sound when defending the run and bullies interior offensive linemen when asked to pass rush. Has a powerful bull rush and uses his hands extremely well to give him the advantage.

HOW GOOD IS PRESTON SMITH? THE NEXT J.J. WATT, OR JUST A GUY? SOUND OFF IN THE FORUMS!

He excels at setting the edge against the run when lined up as one of the edge players. He has excellent explosion off of the snap and engages quickly. Smith has sneaky burst to blow through a hole on the offensive line.

Smith even played nose for Mississippi State in a one-gap 3-4 front on obvious passing downs. He's a high motor player, who won’t stop going if he is taken out of the play. He's competitive and always wants to be on the field.

In Scout.com's live chat with leading NFL scout Dave-Te Thomas, I had the opportunity to fire a question about Preston Smith. Thomas, one of the most well-respected scouts in the business, had an interesting response.

ERICK, WE MIGHT HAVE A BROMANCE GOING. I TELL EVERYONE, THROW AWAY THE McKINNEY PRAISE. DE (PRESTON) SMITH WAS ALL THAT JAZZ FOR THE MSU DEFENSE. IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME TO SEE HIM GO 40 OR BETTER. - Dave-Te Thomas

Cons

Preston Smith is not an incredible athlete. He needs refinement as a pass rusher, especially off the edge. Outside of a bull rush, Smith is limited in pass rushing moves and doesn’t have a quick change of direction.

When rushing off of the edge, Smith doesn’t bend the corner, he rounds it. He has a long, lanky frame that can add another 15-20 pounds, while not losing his explosion.

How he fits with the Denver Broncos

Preston Smith is a top-40 player in this draft, and I would not be surprised to see him crack the first round. Hopefully, the Broncos have done their homework on Smith and look his way at pick No. 28, if he is still on the board.

Smith has "difference-maker" written all over him, both as a run stopper and as a pass rusher. He may be limited in pass rush moves, but he can still wreak havoc with his motor and power.

With the Broncos, Smith would step in as a rotational depth piece who could be put on the field in a variety of ways. He could line up as a 5-tech defensive end, or nose tackle. Depending on the circumstance, he can even line up in the middle of the Broncos linebacker corps and defend the run or rush the quarterback.

Also, while the Broncos have six 3-4 defensive linemen under contract, four of them will have their contracts run out after this season. So they could be looking for potential replacements for Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Antonio Smith and Marvin Austin in this year's draft.

Smith could effectively replace all of them, even Austin, though that would only be in certain situations. Smith has a ridiculously high ceiling. I am talking All-Pro selections and Pro Bowls for years to come. Working with Bill Kollar and Wade Phillips, Smith very easily could reach that ceiling and be a player in the running for Defensive Player of the Year regularly.

This is a pick the Broncos should consider and one I fully endorse them making. The kind of impact Smith can have his rookie year and beyond is off the charts.

Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook.

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Next Story:

Finding Broncos: Durell Eskridge, FS

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