2015 NFL Draft Profile: Preston Smith, DE Mississippi State


Mississippi State defensive end Preston Smith is one of the hot names surrounding this year’s draft class.  After a successful college career, he impressed everyone at the combine by putting up great numbers in the 40 yard dash, broad jump, cone drill, and shuttle.  When you combine that with an ability to play inside the ends in a “Nascar” type formation on pass rushing downs, he gains even more value.

However, there is more than meets the eye to him.  Despite the great combine numbers and record of collegiate success, there are a couple major flaws that could keep him from becoming a great NFL caliber player.  The first is that he’s noticeably slow off the snap.  Because of this, he will often lose the battle at the line against more agile blockers.  Plus, he relies too much on his speed instead of technique and power, thus making him a bit of a one-trick pony.

However, Preston Smith does do that one trick very well.  His edge rushing ability is very impressive due to his speed and strong hand work.  Teams could be willing to overlook the other problems and work on them through coaching and reps based on that potential.  But due to his versatility and natural talents, Smith will see his name called quite early in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Feb 20, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Mississippi State defensive lineman Preston Smith speaks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Combine Measurables:

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 271 pounds
  • Arm Length: 34″
  • Hand Size: 10 5/8″
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.74 seconds
  • Bench Press: 24 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 34.0″
  • Broad Jump: 121.0″
  • 3 Cone Drill: 7.07 seconds
  • 20 Yard Shuttle:

Draft Projection

Preston Smith is currently the #38 overall prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft according to CBS Sports and is their #5 defensive end available.  He’s projected to be a first to second round draft pick.

NFL Player Comparison

  • NFL.com: Antonio Smith, Denver Broncos
  • CBSSports.com: N/A

Fit For The Vikings

Minnesota will be looking for a defensive end in this draft to develop under Brian Robison as well as provide competition and depth at the position.  His ability to move inside on pass rush situations will also be attractive.

My Take

While there are plenty of reason to be excited about Preston Smith, there are enough concerns to warrant not using a first or second round pick on him.  He’s a speed rusher with good hands who is typically slow off the snap.  For me, you’d need a more polished player at defensive end to use such a high pick.  However, he does have the potential to be a great defensive end if he can correct the couple minor issues he has.

Next: Top 10 Biggest Vikings Salaries For 2015

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