Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith might be facing an uphill path to the NFL. On the field he shows the potential to be a solid starting guard. However, in a year in which the NFL will likely be much more conservative than usual, medical red flags could torpedo Smith’s draft stock.
Smith looks almost exactly like the player any offensive line coach would want getting off the team bus first. At 6-foot-5 1⁄2 inches, 331 pounds, with 33 1⁄2 inch arms, he has solid length and a thick, powerful build. That translates onto the field where he is a mauling run blocker. He even acquitted himself well at the 2021 Senior Bowl and was one of the more impressive offensive linemen on the property. Smith is the kind of player teams are usually happy to spend a Day 2 pick on.
But then there are those medical red flags. Smith was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs in 2018 and again in 2019. The issue was treated and is believed to be under control, but could that still be enough to scare off NFL teams in a year in which they can’t have much contact with the prospects?
The New York Giants found success in their power running game in 2020 and are forever looking to build and reinforce their offensive line. Could he prove to be a steal if the League is skittish over his health?
Prospect: Trey Smith
Games Watched: vs. BYU (2019), vs. South Carolina (2020), vs. Georgia (2020)
Red Flags: Blood clots
Best: Size, strength, run blocking, pass protection, competitive toughness
Worst: Lateral agility, health
Projection: A starting guard in a power blocking scheme.
(Note: Smith is LG number 73)
Trey Smith is a big, powerful guard prospect from the University of Tennessee.
Smith typically lined up at the left guard position and has excellent size and strength to play on the interior in the NFL. He has good length and sports a balanced physique with good thickness in his upper and lower body. That being said, Smith’s movement skills and lower body flexibility bely his bulk. He shows good flexibility in his ankles, knees, and hips, allowing him to play with good knee bend and maintain his pad level throughout the rep.
Smith is a reliable pass protector at the guard position. He has enough foot quickness to mirror most interior defenders in a limited radius, and he does a good job of identifying stunts, twists, or blitzes attacking the A or B-gaps. He is consistently looking for work as a pass protector at times helping both his tackle and center each block a different defender on the same play. Smith also shows a good, wide base and plenty of play strength to absorb and anchor against power rushes.
That play strength truly shines in the running game, as Smith is capable of being a dominant run blocker. He shows the ability to fire off the ball, playing with good leverage while delivering hard strikes to defenders before driving them off the ball. He has enough athleticism to be an effective pulling guard, as well as working off double-teams to block at the second level. Smith is a very aggressive blocker and is, at times, downright nasty. He consistently looks to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground, at times going so far as to jump on them to keep them there, or delivering an extra shot as the play ends.
Smith is a powerful run blocker, but he appears out of his element in outside zone runs. He can struggle to stay in sync with his linemates when asked to block outside of a small radius. That can allow openings for defenders to penetrate into the backfield and disrupt the play.
There are also instances where Smith’ aggressiveness as a blocker can get the better of him. He can be prone to getting over-extended and lunging at defenders. In those cases he can be knocked to the ground or miss his block completely.
By far the biggest concern for Smith is in regards to his health. Smith was first diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, and again in 2019. The issue was reportedly treated with a course of anticoagulants and is currently believed to be under control with aspirin. However, given the serious nature of the issue, teams will want to be particularly careful in evaluating his medical reports.
Overall Grade: 6.9 - This prospect has starting upside in the right scheme, but has limitations and health questions which need to be addressed.
Trey Smith projects to be a starting guard for a team that uses man-gap principles and a power run game.
At least assuming his medicals check out.
Smith has all the size and strength required to play in a power-based offense, with enough athleticism to be useful for teams that like to use pulling guards or screens. He should be a reliable pass protector at the NFL level, as long as the team doesn’t look to expand the pocket too broadly and ask him to block too wide a range.
Teams might have to curtail their use of outside zone running plays, at least at first, but that should be considered by any team grading him. Smith has enough athleticism that he could eventually grow into a blocker with enough scheme diversity to be able to execute any blocking scheme at an acceptable level.
The bigger question comes down to health. The issue of long-term availability is a question the NFL needs to answer for every prospect, but the question of blood clots is significantly scarier than a torn muscle or ligament injury. Even if Smith is given a clean bill of health at the time of the draft, his future team’s medical staff will likely want to be careful to keep a close eye on him. Not only for his availability on the field, but also his long-term health beyond football.
Assuming Smith’s health checks out, he could be a player who out-performs his draft slot if he lands in the right situation.