NAME: Jordan Smith
POSITION: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
WEIGHT: 255 pounds
A native of Georgia, Jordan Smith kicked off his football career at Lithonia High School. In his 2014 high school season, he racked up 10 sacks. Smith originally committed to South Carolina for college football. However, the Gamecocks saw a rough start to their 2015 season, and he would go on to de-commit from them. After reopening his recruitment, Smith chose the Florida Gators almost immediately. Upon joining Florida, he redshirted during his true freshman season of 2016. And he never actually saw the field with the Gators.
Smith was one of nine Florida players that ended up getting suspended for the 2017 season. Due to an alleged credit card fraud scheme, his time at the school was subsequently over. He began his road of redemption while playing college football at the JUCO level in 2018, at Butler Community College in Kansas. After landing with UAB, Smith became one of the top defenders in the Conference USA. He ranked fourth in the conference for sacks and ninth in the conference in tackles for loss in 2019. Across 21 games with the Blazers, the defender totaled 89 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. Smith also had a strong showing in this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl.
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Smith fires out of his stance with quick and wicked steps. Additionally, he uses long strides to reach the depth of the backfield at a rapid piece. With this, Smith stresses opposing offensive linemen. They are forced to make a decision to reach outside of their strike zone. Or, blockers must attempt to work him laterally. Smith just gets up the field vertically so well. On obvious passing downs, he brings tremendous flexibility, bend and speed to the table, knowing that all he has to do is rush the passer.
Aided by his exceptional length (83 1/4” wingspan), Smith loves to overpower opposing blockers while handfighting. He can still stand to add more to his pass rush arsenal, regarding counter moves. Nonetheless, Smith showed he can create separation for himself at the point of attack with swift, active hands. He packs a punch with violent strikes when popping against the front of opposing blockers. Smith has enough natural strength and a low center of gravity needed to set the line of scrimmage. Slipping through blocks and relying on his effort and athleticism can lead to solid production. However, there will need to be an increase in counter moves and better hand placement in order to become a complete player. Smith flashed parts of that at the Senior Bowl.
Certainly, this defender will need a fair amount of development moving forward. The ability to line up in multiple ways could help him though. Smith has been able to win as a stand up pass rusher. He has been able to produce on other plays, by starting with his hand in the dirt. There is belief that Smith can excel in a variety of defensive fronts. In odd fronts, he flashes natural pass rush potential. His run defense could show up more in even fronts. The capabilities are definitely there for him to move around and play different positions, whether that be as a defensive end or outside linebacker.
Pass Rush Counters
Stringing moves together is a massive work in progress here. Smith likes to use a swim move above all else. Moreover, there is times on occasion where he can win with a bull rush. However, combining improved hand placement and timing will be a beginning learning curve for Smith. The UAB product can have his ample length and power taken away quickly, if he is unable to activate pass rush counter moves. There are also times where smarter blockers will push his arms down, forcing Smith to rely on his lower half. Smith will not always be able to run around opponents or outmuscle them naturally, especially at the NFL level.
Overall, Smith can be a bit slow to process plays in front of him. His natural effort, aggressiveness and motor takes him out of his gap. Thus, a gaping hole is left open for runners or playmakers to attack through. There is also added development and seasoning needed for deconstructing blocks. Reading the block, how opposing blockers are set and reacting accordingly will be an area of improvement for Smith. Coaches will be encouraged with his ability to recover and catch ball carriers with his pursuit. Though, finding a better plan of attack before the play starts will benefit Smith greatly.
His role and scheme fit will be huge for Smith, so he can continue to grow as a player. Specifically with a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, he is a bit leaner compared to the usual pass rushers deployed by Steve Spagnuolo. Having that added length and terrific movement skills could garner him more snaps. Kansas City would also be open to adding his speed and explosiveness to the pass rush. If it does not work for Smith early on, he could be relegated to more of a situational pass rush role. Will his ceiling exceed that? Trusting his natural gifts and improving on what could be in his toolbox, will only further add to his chances of making an impact on every down at the next level.
Jordan Smith has shown exciting flashes when chasing after the quarterback. The Chiefs cannot rely solely on Chris Jones or Frank Clark to get the job done. Sure, the defensive back blitz attempts can throw opponents off guard. Kansas City needs more consistent pressure out of base looks, however. Smith could also greatly benefit from joining a team like this. For one, this defensive coaching staff ran by Spagnuolo has seen astounding results from depth level players. They truly have accomplished so much with minimal premium players. Elsewhere, Smith is the sort of natural bender around the edge that the Chiefs need coming around the corner. His physical gifts could quickly be ushered in with Kansas City.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the winter and spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.