2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Braden Smith

  • Braden Smith, 6-6/315

  • Guard

  • Auburn

  • Braden Smith Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Big-bodied guard
  • Good athlete
  • Has some strength
  • Good height, weight
  • Dependable pass protector
  • Ability to bend
  • Sustains blocks
  • Controls linemen; stalls out defenders
  • Agility
  • Has good technique
  • Has quick feet
  • Can bend at the knee
  • Very experienced
  • Effective against good competition
  • Fires off the line
  • Intelligent
  • Good at pulling
  • Effective in space
  • Good fit in a zone-blocking scheme
  • Awareness

  • Weaknesses:
  • Could stand to play stronger
  • Should acquire more functional strength
  • Short arms - 32.25
  • Guard only
  • Gets in trouble versus guys who can knock him off track

  • Summary: The 2018 NFL Draft is weak at the offensive tackle position, but it has some strength on the interior of the offensive line, where one of those quality prospects is Smith. Auburn has consistently fielded a good rushing attack, and Smith was the mainstay on their offensive line as a 4-year starter. He was one of the best blockers in the SEC over that time.

    As a run blocker, Smith has good technique. When he gets his hands on defenders, he stalls them out and keeps them from making plays. Some team sources felt that Smith needs to get stronger, while others feel he has good strength. Either way, Smith is a mobile and athletic blocker. He is a very nice fit for a zone scheme as he uses his quickness and agility to be part of a moving wall.

    In pass protection, Smith is reliable. He was steady for Auburn last year, and early in the season, when the line was struggling to protect Jarrett Stidham - see the Clemson game -, Smith was the blocker who was effectively solid. Smith can get into trouble when powerful defensive tackles knock him off track. That could give him some issues early in his career, but he is quick and athletic to block speed rushers. With his length, athleticism, and strength, he should be a good interior pass protector in the NFL.

    In speaking to sources at a handful of teams, they all thought Smith was a solid second-day pick and deserving of going in Round 2. He could become a starting guard early in his NFL career and end up having a good career with Pro Bowl potential.

    Player Comparison: Andrew Norwell. Smith's steady play reminds me of Norwell. They both are 6-foot-6, and Norwell weighs a little more than Smith. Norwell (6-6, 325) is an effective run and pass blocker. In the NFL, I think Smith could be a similar blocker.

    NFL Matches: Denver, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Seattle, Baltimore, Miami, San Francisco, Jacksonville and Indianapolis

    There are a lot of teams that could be a fit for Smith in the 2018 NFL Draft. One of the biggest needs on the Dolphins' roster is guard talent. At Miami's second-round pick, Smith could be a great fit for the team as a safe pick and plug-and-play starter.

    Denver or Tampa Bay could take Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in the first round. Whichever doesn't land Nelson could target Smith in the second round. Staying in the NFC South, Carolina lost Norwell in free agency and has shown a lot of interest in Smith. He could be a plug-and-play second-round pick for the Panthers.

    Cincinnati definitely needs to improve its offensive line, so Smith could be in play for the Bengals as the true replacement to Kevin Zeitler. The Bears also could consider looking to get a guard upgrade.

    The Seahawks had Luke Joeckel starting for them last year, and he was a liability. Smith probably isn't in contention or would not be a good value for Seattle in the first round, but if the team moves down and picks up a second-day pick, Smith could make sense for the organization to help it reestablish its rushing offense while providing better protection for Russell Wilson.

    Baltimore could use an upgrade at guard. Smith would make sense for the Ravens on Day 2. The 49ers need multiple upgrades to their offensive line. Smith could make sense for San Francisco in the second round.

    Smith has a few potential landing spots in the AFC South. The Colts continue to need more talent on their offensive line, and a guard like Smith could make a lot of sense for them on Day 2.



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