Analysis: Rashad Smith could be a late-round steal in the 2020 NFL Draft

The Boca Raton Bowl Defensive MVP might not be one of the most highly-touted prospects, but he may end up being a solid NFL linebacker.

FAU+Linebacker+Rashad+Smith+had+a+productive+2019+season+with+109+total+tackles%2C+three+interceptions+and+five+fumble+recoveries.+Photo+by+Alex+Liscio.+

FAU Linebacker Rashad Smith had a productive 2019 season with 109 total tackles, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Colby Guy, Staff Writer

Rashad Smith may not be one of the most highly touted prospects in the NFL Draft, but he could still end up being a quality NFL linebacker if a team takes a chance on him.

Here’s how he might match up during the draft on April 23:

Pros

Smith has been one of the best outside linebackers FAU has had in recent history, tallying two near-100 total tackle seasons in his four-year career with the Owls.

2019 was the best year of Smith’s career, as he tallied 109 total tackles, three interceptions and a nation-leading five fumble recoveries, returning one of them for a touchdown.

Smith was one of the leaders on an FAU defense that led the nation in turnovers gained (33) and interceptions forced (11). He was also named Boca Raton Bowl defensive MVP, registering nine tackles and an interception.

He was also a leader off the field, as he was one of FAU’s team captains during the 2019 campaign.

Smth had a similarly good season in 2017, a season in which he led the Owls to a C-USA Championship and a Boca Raton Bowl victory, just like the 2019 campaign.

In 2017, he had 99 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and six sacks. He didn’t have as much of an impact that season when it came to forcing fumbles, but he did do a great job in stuffing the run and getting to the quarterback, and that’s the name of the game when it comes to Rashad Smith.

Smith is a linebacker that can wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines and has the awareness to stop plays before they turn into a large gain. He is a great run stopper, and if he can replicate his output of 2017, he can also get to the quarterback easily as well.

He is all over the field and can make any play you ask him to. He can drop into coverage and intercept passes, which he mostly did in 2018, or he can play in the front seven and blow up runs easily.

He is one of the most versatile linebackers in the draft, as he can play in many different roles and contribute in different areas on defense.

Cons 

The one down-side when it comes to Smith is his size, as he currently stands at 6’1” and 220 pounds. His frame is a good start, but he needs to add a few more pounds to be effective against NFL offensive lines, which is definitely a concern for teams that could look at him.

With that in mind and the fact that the competition that FAU has played isn’t exactly the cream of the crop, Smith will most likely find himself being drafted in the seventh round or even being an undrafted free agent.

Best fit

However, this is a good thing for Smith, as if he gets the chance, this could really allow him to start off with a team that fits him well. The team I think he ends up with is the New England Patriots.

With the departure of Kyle Van Noy and lack of depth at the linebacker position to subsidize that loss, I feel like the Patriots could take a chance on Smith and allow him to grow on what was one of the best defenses in the league last season.

Smith would fit perfectly into Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s defense if given the chance, as he is a very versatile linebacker who is a very good yard-suppressor. 

With the Patriots heading in a new direction with the departure of Tom Brady, Smith could be a big part of creating a strong, youthful defense that will help Brady’s replacement win games and keep the Patriots in contention for Super Bowls.

It might not happen right away, as even the seventh round seems like a pipe dream for Smith, but if he can make noise during training camp as an undrafted free agent, he could potentially become a big part of an NFL defense.

Tomorrow the University Press will be taking a look at wide receiver DeAngelo Antoine.

Colby Guy is a staff writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @thatguycolbs.