2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Smoke Mondayby Carter Vyas April 8, 2022 0 comments
One extremely exciting safety who is flying under the radar as the 2022 NFL Draft approaches is Smoke Monday. Throughout his four-year career at Auburn, Monday tallied 170 total tackles and five interceptions. In his junior year, Monday really got to showcase his full arsenal, as he was given a chance to start. In this junior season, he produced 53 more tackles than his sophomore year, while also trending upwards in his coverage game. In his senior year, Monday improved in the passes defended department with five. Entering the draft if teams are looking for a late pick to develop with high upside due Monday is the perfect gamble.
Hailing from Atlanta, Monday was a standout at Carver High School, getting attention from colleges all over the nation. Monday was a high four-star recruit according to the 247 Composite Rankings. He received a total of 20 offers including ones from Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, and of course Auburn. Auburn treated him right as he stayed all four years and produced successfully each year he saw more time.
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Name: Smoke Monday
Jersey: No. 21
Weight: 199 lbs
Games Watched: Kentucky (2020), Ole Miss (2020), Arkansas (2021)
Major Injury History: Shoulder Procedure (2019)
Monday seemingly looks like a very instinctual player, but when a deeper look is taken, he is seriously flawed at many instinctual parts of the game. Zone coverage is heavily dependent on instincts as the defender is in charge of a whole zone, not just a man. Zone is a serious struggle for Monday, which will be discussed in deeper detail later. His instincts flaw in the tackling department as well, taking bad angles and causing him to miss tackles. In run-pass options Monday reacts with average instincts, sometimes guessing the run or pass correctly, and sometimes choosing wrong leading to being in bad positions.
Range/Closing Speed (11.75/15)
As for safeties, Monday has below-average speed, he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. As far as in-game speed Monday shows a lack of raw speed, continually getting run past by offensive players. Sometimes it’s not all on Monday’s speed as he can take inefficient tackling angles, leading to him having to run guys down a good amount.
Man Coverage (6.75/10)
When on an island, Monday has a tendency to put hands on the receiver throughout their breaks which can and will be flagged at the next level. He can also struggle to stay with receivers, especially on short and intermediate routes due to a lack of lateral speed. Despite this, Bryan Harsin clearly felt comfortable putting Monday into one-on-one positions, such as in the Kentucky game where Monday was in man coverage upwards of a dozen times.
Zone Coverage (6/10)
Zone coverage is a weak spot, as Monday routinely looks lost in a zone look, struggling to identify receivers in his zone. Most of his struggles do not come when he is a deep safety, which is a positive. Monday has a serious tendency to get caught behind receivers who come through his zone. Although his struggles in zone coverage are apparent Monday has had multiple picks masterfully jumping passes when in zone coverage. His interceptions can be a product of gambling on the quarterback’s eyes, this can lead to aggressively biting on fakes.
Ball Skills (7.75/10)
Intercepting five passes total throughout his career at Auburn, Monday showed some real ball skills. Not too many of his interceptions show extreme ball skills, but most require a good level. The low number of interceptions Monday had at Auburn was mostly due to not seeing high amounts of playing time his first two years, and playing snaps as a blitzer and in the box.
Change of Direction (5.5/10)
Just like his speed Monday has a change of direction that doesn’t stand out. Especially in coverage, Monday doesn’t show the “oily” hip movement that NFL scouts would like to see. This leads to Monday putting his hands on receivers throughout their cuts due to the fact he will get beat otherwise. Similar to most of his game, he can change direction reasonably well when tackling runners.
Tackling/Run Support (8.25/10)
In terms of run support, Monday is a stronger tackler behind the line of scrimmage and in the box, than in the secondary. He can blow up runs in the backfield consistently, as he reads gaps well. When runs enter the secondary, it is common he misses tackles due to not taking the right angles, and not being in position. In terms of one on one tackling, Monday filled out in his later years at Auburn he was able to make extremely big hits when tackling. Although these look big hits look awesome it causes flaws in his tackling, as Monday can miss tackles due to going for bigger hits. Monday also engages with blockers well, getting his hands on them early.
Whether it’s playing snaps in the box, in man coverage, or as a deep safety, Monday has an unmatched versatility that few safeties have. Tallying six sacks throughout his Auburn career, Monday is a player who can truly thrive in any area of the defense. In his time at Auburn, he mainly played deep safety but did appear strong in the box as well. Playing him in the box allows him to show off his unique ability to blow up runs. NFL teams should be extremely excited with the wide range of ways Monday can be used. Monday’s 6’3″ height is also something not to forget about.
Monday is without a doubt one of the most athletically sound players in this draft. The combination of frame and power make Monday the generational athlete he is. A big hitter, Monday ran an average 4.52 40 yard dash showing an athletic limit at speed. Strengths of his are, that Monday is 6’3″ with a superb 79-inch wingspan. At the NFL level, Monday should be able to better his speed, but athletic traits are no doubt there.
Monday is definitely a high-upside safety that can blossom in the right NFL scheme. He shows elite run-stopping ability, especially at the line of scrimmage and behind. Flaws come in large amounts for Monday though, he is a below-average pass defender in both man and zone. These serious flaws can shy teams away from Monday, although there is room for improvement in those aspects. It won’t be hard for Monday to transition to NFL tackling due to his strong hit power, but speed is another thing he will have to improve. With serious development, Monday can become a starting level piece.
Rookie Projections: Backup Safety
Third Year Projections: Rotational Box Safety
Final Grade (74.5/100): Fourth-Round Pick
Player Comp: Jabrill Peppers
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images