AnalysisThe Bucs drafted a huge right tackle prospect from Penn State in Donovan Smith from Penn State. He’s still so young and has plenty of room for growth of development. Smith has tremendous power and can really get off the ball. He has versatility, as many believe he can move inside and play guard. Addressing the offensive line is a screaming need for this franchise, especially in building a front wall to protect Tampa’s new franchise quarterback.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
Instant Analysis from Scout's Jamie Newberg:
The Bucs drafted a huge right tackle prospect from Penn State in Donovan Smith from Penn State. He’s still so young and has plenty of room for growth of development. Smith has tremendous power and can really get off the ball. He has versatility, as many believe he can move inside and play guard. Addressing the offensive line is a screaming need for this franchise, especially in building a front wall to protect Tampa’s new franchise quarterback.
Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:
Even though he started in each of his three seasons at State College, few scouts expected Donovan Smith to declare for the 2015 draft. The left tackle has had a few “dings” that prevented him from playing an entire schedule, though – missing two contests due to a high ankle sprain in 2012, but he did earn nine starting assignments at left tackle.
In 2013, he started eleven times, posting 12 touchdown-resulting blocks on the way to receiving All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention. The new coaching staff refused to reveal the reason an injured Smith did not play vs. Maryland and Indiana (later revealed to be a concussion suffered in the Ohio State clash), but he managed to record 51 knock-downs and ten touchdown-resulting blocks during his eleven 2014 appearances.
Smith has the valid balance and agility needed to consistently play on his feet. He shows some explosion coming off the snap and is fluid with his lateral slide. While he plays on his feet, he labors when having to move in space. The Nittany Lion has a better straight-ahead burst than when moving laterally. He looks a little stiff redirecting to his right (better flowing left) and is best working at the line of scrimmage, making him a possible better fit as a guard.
Smith follows through with his hand punch and is quick to get his hands placed in front to lock on and steer, but tends to get wild swinging his arms, often leaving his chest exposed for counter moves. His outstanding punch works better when he leaves the ground to deliver. One thing you notice on film is that he’s very physical in his play. He does a good job of getting his body positioned to lean into the defender, knowing how to torque his body and push with his shoulders or grab with his hands to steer.
Smith also shows the strength to finish his blocks, having recently recorded a 400-pound bench press and a 500-pound squat. When working in space, he will struggle to redirect. When he hits his landmarks, he is explosive. Too often, he will overextend and lose body position, but is athletic enough to recover.
While he is an effective blocker, Smith needs to improve his footwork. He can defeat a defender with his strength and hand punch, but speed rushers give him trouble with their second moves. Still, he manages to gain position in order to mirror and slide, but struggles getting out to the edge to defeat the corner rush. He shows good balance and quickness working in the short area, but labors getting into gear when working in space.
The Nittany Lion brings his hips properly to position and wall off, using his upper body strength to lock out and control the defenders. He compensates for a lack of up field quickness by taking proper blocking angles. He is more effective if he’s able to lock onto a stationary target, as he seems to have problems adjusting on the move. He will overextend when he tries to make the cut block, which he will generally miss with.
As wild as he is swinging his arms, Smith generates tremendous power behind his hand punch, striking with force and determination. He simply flattens defenders when he is able to get his hands underneath, but has to do a much better job of keeping hand placement to mirror. While his explosive punch will allow him to jolt his man, he will need to develop better consistency using his quickness in recoiling.
Smith is very alert to the action on the field. He can locate stunts and blitzes quickly, but needs to be quicker to regain position when beaten in the short area. He has the foot slide to hold the edge and shows good vision to react to twists and games. However he struggles with inside counter moves, as his feet tend to get heavy.
Donovan Smith NFL Scouting Combine measurable
6-6/338 (5.27 forty)
34 3/8-inch arm length
10 5/8-inch hands
32-inch vertical jump
109-inch broad jump
7.95 3 cone drill
4.79 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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