East Carolina Senior
Shows nice athleticism. Sets up well with his hands to deliver a punch and shows ability to mirror speed. Shows some pop at times and able to get position, especially on the kickout block. Does his best work when blocking in space. Does a good job hitting his assignments on the second level and shows ability to lock on in space and locate moving targets.
Is a waist bender with very raw technique. Gives up ground to the bull rush and does a poor job initiating contact on the edge. When he does, his punch is weak and he whiffs often. Doesn't have good footwork, and slides his feet causing him to lose base and struggles to anchor vs. the bull rush. Backpedals off the line and needs to do a better job with his kick slide. Takes a false step at times as run blocker and it limits his pop as a straight-ahead run blocker. Doesn't show ability to consistently lock on as a run blocker and limits his ability to get push. Lacks mean streak and doesn't finish his blocks consistently. Flagged multiple times, including 5 times for false start and twice for holding in the three games I saw.
Smith is the type of player that has athleticism that NFL teams are looking for, but is very raw in his technique and may not show the intangibles to think he's going to get better. He started his career as a 265-pound defensive lineman, recording 7 tackles and 1 for loss as a freshman reserve. But moved to offense the following year, getting some reps as a backup lineman and tight end. Started 27 games at left tackle the past two seasons. He might project better as a blocking tight end for some teams because of his athleticism.
Smith doesn't flash the sort of mean streak that most defensive converts have. He is raw and several years from being able to compete at the next level. If he can be stashed on a practice squad for two years, I think he has a shot at developing into a decent reserve tackle down the road. He might also be able to play guard as well if his technique never improves to the level where teams are comfortable with him on the outside. At best, you're probably going to get a poor man's Wade Smith. Wade Smith struggled early during his career at left tackle, but moved inside to guard and center, and in his 9th year in the league managed to be the Houston Texans best blocker at guard. The same is possible for WIllie, but he'll have to show significant improvement during the early part of his career. The lack of mean streak and susceptibility for penalties which indicates lacking mental toughness and focus don't make me optimistic. If he plays in a scheme that asks him to pull and block on the second level, I think he can do that well. But his hand use and footwork are raw and sloppy, and unless a coach can fix that he'll be very limited even as a depth player. And again because of those questionable intangibles, I don't expect he'll improve. He's the type of player that if I was an NFL team would let someone else do his development during his rookie contract, and then try to pick him up as a free agent later on. As was the case with Wade Smith or a similar prospect like Frank Omiyale, the team that drafts him is unlikely to get a return on their investment.
Smith is worth a look in the Falcons camp and could be developed as a swing tackle and guard in the same mold as Valdez. But like Valdez, he'll have to spend two years on the practice squad. Then he might have improved enough to make some waves as a reserve, but likely will have ridden the pine for the next two years. And then, if he shows enough improvement might merit a second contract as a reserve. But he's very unlikely to do anything beyond being an average backup in Atlanta unless he really takes to coaching, which seems doubtful at this point.
I have the feeling that some team is going to draft him because they like his upside, but I think he's not worth a draft pick because of his long development time and raw skills. Sign him as an undrafted free agent.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Blocking: 2.0
Run Blocking: 2.5
Mean Streak: 2.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.