With that as a backdrop, Packer Report is running a series of profiles on this year's outside linebacker candidates. We continue with ...
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 266 pounds
Agility tests: 4.71 in the 40-yard dash…1.68 10-yard dash…2.74 20-yard dash…4.46 20-yard shuttle…7.55 three-cone drill…37-inch vertical jump (ranked fourth among all defensive linemen at the Scouting Combine)…10'-1" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times…34 1/8-inch arm length…9 1/2-inch hands…83 1/8-inch wingspan.
Injury report: No injuries reported.
Number to note: Smith had 9.5 sacks as a junior and 8.5 sacks as a senior with a combined 24 tackles for losses.
Facing essentially the same competition in the SEC over the past two seasons, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney recorded 16 sacks. Arkansas' Chris Smith recorded 18 sacks.
Clowney is the likely No. 1 overall draft pick.
Smith likely will be selected in the third round.
Getting to the quarterback has been the story of Smith's career. At West Rowan High School in Mount Ulla, N.C., he had 48 sacks in helping the school win back-to-back state championships.
With the Razorbacks, he had 9.5 sacks as a junior and 8.5 sacks as a senior. Some of them came from a three-point stance; some of them came as a stand-up defensive end. Some of them came with pure speed; some came on a spin move he unleashed last season.
"I feel like just my get-off and just being a student of the game," Smith said when describing his pass-rushing production. "I am one of those that's a film junkie. I try to pick up people's weaknesses as far as offensive line and things of that nature. That's one thing about it, especially at the next level — everybody is good. So, I feel like the film study is very important."
Smith is an intriguing combination of speed, smarts, power and unusual length. At the Scouting Combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds and had a 37-inch vertical leap. He put up 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press. And, despite being only 6-foot-1, he's got 34 1/8-inch arms. That length is the gold standard, so to speak, for a left tackle.
"As far as the pass rush, I feel like I use that in pass rushing," he said of his long arms. "And in the run game it really helps me out, too. I never really noticed my arms or whatever but that's one thing about it — if it can help me at the next level. I am all for it."
Smith is a high-character, "yes, sir; no, sir" kind of guy. He's lacking some buzz, perhaps in part to the alphabet. As Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL general manager Phil Savage explained, "alphabetically, it was Michael Sam and Chris Smith" at the Scouting Combine. Thus, Sam would run or jump and it'd be dissected during the time Smith was showing his skills.
Buzz aside, with his combination of intangibles and talent — Savage compared him to Elvis Dumervil — Smith's got a chance to provide instant impact.
"It's going to feel like a dream come true," he said. "Me being from Salisbury, N.C, I am the first person ever in history to be at the NFL Combine. So, that's one thing about it, just being a role model for the kids and they're looking up to me and I am telling them that you can do to it as far as it just being hard work. So, that's one thing you dream about as a little kid in the NFL and, once they call my name, it's going to be a sigh of relief. That just one thing about it. Just can't wait."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.