Scouting Report: Justin Smiley

To get the lowdown on Dolphins free agent acquisition Justin Smiley, a guard who came over from the San Francisco 49ers, we checked in with SFI Editor in Chief Craig Massei. He offers this scouting report on Smiley.

Justin Smiley is an athletic, hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone individual who has developed into an above-average starting NFL guard whose best days would appear to still be in front of him.

That is, if he can stay healthy. Smiley has had surgery to repair torn labrums in each of his shoulders each of the past two years. Smiley injured his left shoulder early in the 2006 season, but gritted it out through the pain to start every game at left guard that year and perform at a high level.

Smiley dislocated his right shoulder last year in San Francisco's Nov. 4 game at Atlanta, tearing the labrum in that shoulder and this time ending his season. He had started each of San Francisco's games for three consecutive seasons to that point.

Smiley is a superb drive blocker who delivers a wallop with power when he gets leverage on a defender. He also is excellent as a trap blocker and as a pulling blocker when he can use his speed to get out in space and engage defenders on sweeps. He has good agility but still needs to work on his strength to help him hold up against bull-rushing defenders in pass coverage, where he is inconsistent.

Like the rest of San Francisco's offensive line, which had an admirable 2006 season, Smiley struggled early in 2007 but was coming on strong at the time of his injury.

"This (past) year started off kind of rocky, honestly, kind of inconsistent for me," Smiley told Massei at the end of the season. "I feel like the last couple of games I really came on and was back to playing at my level that I was playing at last year (in 2006). I feel like I can come back and give my best football, because I feel like my best football is ahead of me."

That's another attribute about Smiley - he has complete confidence in his ability. He also is an emotional player who commands respect from teammates and opponents alike.

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