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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

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The Giants’ defense was formidable in 2016, but does it still need pieces?

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ defense was vastly improved in 2016 in almost every facet. A bevy of investments, both draft and free agent, paid off handsomely to yield one of the top defenses in the NFL.

But one of the few weaknesses in the renewed Big Blue defense was their inability to get pressure on quarterbacks quickly. While that was undoubtedly impacted by the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul -- who was coming on as a dominant force and a game-wrecker off the edge -- they still lacked a classic speed rusher who could beat blockers at the snap.

The 2017 edge rusher class is absolutely loaded with talented players -- defensive ends and linebackers for nearly every defensive need. That makes distinguishing one’s self from the crowd a tall order. Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot is a player who needs to do just that. Fortunately, Senior Bowl week might be the perfect venue.

Measurables

Height - 6 feet, 3 inches

Weight - 250 pounds

40 Time - 4.82 (projected)

3 Cone -

Short Shuttle -

Vertical Leap -

Broad Jump -

Bench Press -

Pros

  • Flashes a quick first step and impressive agility.
  • Shows good hand usage beat blockers quickly.
  • Shows good bend as an edge rusher to threaten the edge.
  • Lined up both inside and outside for Illinois.
  • Coached by Lovie Smith, an NFL defensive mind.

Cons

  • Somewhat undersized for an NFL defensive end, though not terribly so.
  • Flashes the ability to stack and shed blocks, but doesn’t consistently show power as a rusher.
  • Impacts games, but can go quiet for stretches of time.
  • Disciplined as a run defender, but needs to continue to improve.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

Yes, as a third defensive end and pass rush specialist.

At least to start Smoot doesn’t appear to be quite stout enough to stand up to the NFC East’s formidable offensive lines, at least on a regular basis. He is disciplined in run defense, something not all college prospects can say, but he occasionally seems to struggle to get off blocks.

However, he flashes the quickness and agility to be the speed rusher the 2016 Giants’ defense lacked. Even before JPP was lost for the season with a sports hernia, the Giants’ pass rush relied on power first and foremost, and lacked a true speed rusher.

Smoot seemed to attract double, even triple teams in college, and could certainly benefit from being in a unit where offenses are forced to focus on other players.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - N/A

Mocking The Draft - N/A

CBS Sports - 187th overall

Draft Countdown - N/A

Draft Tek - 192nd overall

Final Thoughts

Smoot has the misfortune of entering the draft in one of the deepest and most talented defensive line and edge rusher classes in recent memory. He might be a more talked about prospect in another less-stacked class, but in this one his school and relative lack of obvious eye-popping traits or production are keeping him under the radar on the national level. That, of course, doesn’t mean that he would be overlooked by the NFL, but it could also mean that his draft stock is depressed. If a team (like the Giants) wants to spend their higher picks elsewhere, they might still be able to get a solid defensive end -- with the potential to make an impact -- later in the draft.

Of course, it could also mean that at some point teams will go on a drafting spree and snap up all the available EDGE players to avoid missing out, such as what happened with offensive linemen in the first round of the 2013 draft.