Trey Smith has been one of the premier offensive linemen since high school. The former five-star recruit has had a consistently solid tenure at the University of Tennessee. With health problems looming, his draft stock has fallen. This, unfortunately, must be taken into account, but how much? Many boards have Smith close to the 100th player even though his talent may be the best at offensive guard in this draft. Everything appears to be there—the size, the power, the dominance—so the real question remains: is it worth taking a shot, given Smith’s medical record? And if so, where should he go? Let’s find out.
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Name: Trey Smith
Position: Offensive Guard
Weight: 321 lbs
Run Blocking (5.0/10)
This is way beyond a surprise. Smith has a lot of holes in his game in the run. Sure, he can obliterate some defenders, but the power was not commonplace. One major issue that Smith has is his inconsistency in how he attempts to block defenders. Either he wraps up the defender, uses a little bit of length, or uses his shoulder. The issue with this is that none of these consistently work.
First off, wrapping up a defender is an instant flag at the next level. Next, using the shoulder to block is a recipe for disaster: defenders can then use their length to control the blocker. The goal of blocking is to have control over the defender. One major flaw in Smith’s game is his balance. When he is on the move, it seems so easy to knock him over. This will be discussed in depth later, but it happened too many times. This will limit Smith’s potential as an outside zone blocker. There is a lot to work on here.
Note: 5.0 is average and 9.0 is elite.
Pass Blocking (7.25/10)
Smith surprisingly showed up quite well in this category. He does an excellent move to maintain control in pass protection: Smith continually punches over and over. This allows the Tennessee product to limit his risk of having his arms chopped. Continually punching his hands allows Smith to reposition and adjust to developments quite well. This was a breath of fresh air. For some reason, the former Volunteer uses his length much better in pass protection. With the NFL becoming more pass-heavy, this was a vital win for Smith on this report.
One negative was that he did get beat on an inside swim move, but that happened only once, so it appears as if he learned from his mistakes. Another potential negative is that Smith overcommitted on his blocks during the Senior Bowl one-on-ones. This causes the blocker to be off-balance and opens them up to certain moves. He toned this down a bit more and regained control, so at least the scouts can see that Smith can adjust.
Smith is simply not great at using his length. Sure, he can use his length to a solid level in the passing game, but it is almost nonexistent in the run. As stated before, Smith wrapped up a player. This was in part due to the fact that he misjudged his length and overcommitted to the block. When his hands did not hit the right spot, the last resort move was to wrap up. This lack of understanding in regards to his length appeared an uneasy amount of times. Also described before, this issue also lends to Smith falling over a lot. Lastly, the Tennessee product does not make the first contact often.
Smith may not be very smooth with his movement, but he is always in a good position. This is almost always true for pass protection. His downside lies in the run game: Smith has narrow feet when moving. Simply put, he is easy to topple over. To sum this all up: Smith has solid footwork when he is at or behind the line of scrimmage, but when he moves sideways or forwards, there is an instant drop in the quality of footwork.
Smith lacks consistency with hand placement. Unfortunately, he is most consistent in placing his hands on the outside of the shoulder pads. This is an instant flag in the NFL. The few times that Smith actually controls the defender they get absorbed, so he has potential if he cleans his act up. This is obviously a correctable issue, but with other negatives on the table, there might be some teams that think Smith is too much of a risk.
For the most part, Smith has excellent awareness. He keeps his head on a swivel and usually processes play developments well. The Tennessee product had one snap where he triple-teamed an interior defensive lineman and allowed a corner blitz to come in clean. That was his only slip-up. Apart from that, Smith has a scary lack of awareness of his length, as stated before. Once the length issue is dealt with, this category could be up in the high eight range.
Although his pro day numbers suggest that Smith can move smoothly, that is not always the case. The fluidity simply is not there, but it is solid enough to start in the NFL. He is not super quick nor explosive, which his one bad pro day number (his broad jump which measured in the 33rd percentile for guards) supported this.
The real issue is the balance. It was hard to not knock this score lower solely due to how terrible Smith’s balance is. He was knocked over seven times in two games alone, not to mention more in other games. This might hint at a weak core and/or lower body. Lastly, Smith has his weight too far forward on his toes. This, too, may be a cause for his poor balance. Obviously, the former Volunteer is strong in his upper body, so that aids his score a little bit.
Power at the Point of Attack (7.0/10)
Smith shows flashes of insane power, but it is just not consistent enough. That may be due to his poor form in the run game, but on some plays, Smith looks like a wrecking ball. On other plays, he looks pedestrian. Let’s assume that this power will become more consistent with coaching. The Tennessee product has unbelievable arm strength, but it is not used properly on the move, so the inconsistency really lies in how he uses his power rather than if he has it.
After witnessing how poor Smith’s balance is, it is hard to put him in any scheme that runs outside zone. It hurts to give him this score. If he cannot stay upright, then he is a liability in the run game. The offense already is outnumbered when one player has the ball in his hands (not to mention the quarterback not blocking most of the time). Losing another player would crumble the chance at being successful. The solid pass blocking and flashes of power certainly make Smith a great target for inside zone, gap, and power run schemes, so watch out for teams like Seattle to take him for developmental depth.
Smith has played snaps at almost every position on the line, but that does not affect his score the way eliminating a scheme due to a lack of balance does.
Competitive Toughness (4.5/5)
There was only one play out of over 100 that Smith took off. When it came to playing Georgia, he never stopped fighting. That is a true competitor.
Want to know why Smith’s draft stock is tumbling? It is not due to his talent whatsoever: it is due to his health. Smith is diagnosed with pulmonary embolisms. He was only cleared once he was on blood thinners, and he will have to continue being on them for his entire life. This affects his tenure in the NFL because he will have to have constant monitoring and bloodwork to ensure that he does not run into any life-threatening complications. One interesting, yet unfortunate, fact is that Smith may not be able to play at high altitude (in other words, he possibly cannot play in Denver). Blood clots more easily at higher elevations.
It is noted that Smith underwent six months of a blood-thinning regiment and baby aspirin to be able to play in 2019, according to The Draft Network.
This did not go as expected. Yes, Smith is a monster on the field. He has power, fear factor, and form. The problems in his play lie in his consistency, hand/length usage, and balance. These can improve at the next level with correct coaching; however, when factoring in his health issues, this may be too much of a project for teams to want to deal with. That was painful to say. Smith’s health truly plays such a huge factor in all of this: if he were completely healthy, the issues would be worth trying to fix. Ultimately, he could have been a first-round pick. The traits are there, but his health is too much of a factor to deal with. It hurts to say this, but surely quite a few teams have eliminated Smith from their draft boards. Only time will tell whether those teams were wrong to not believe in the extraordinary talent that will be sitting there late on day two.
Final Grade (58.25/100): Late Third Round
Player Comp: Larry Warford
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