Donovan Smith is a left tackle out of Penn State University who was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft. Smith was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the second pick in the second round. Smith started two out of his three years at Penn State and played solely at the left tackle position. He had one year of college eligibility left but decided to jump to the NFL after a solid junior year. While Smith played left tackle at Penn State, he will most likely be converted to a guard at the NFL level. He is a talented offensive lineman but lacks the necessary speed and agility of a tackle at this level. He is more of a strong lineman than a mobile one. He uses his strength and long arms to hold off defenders, which will suit him better on the inside of the line rather than the outside. He is 6’6” and weighs around 340 pounds which gives him adequate size for an NFL lineman. Many teams believed Smith would play out his final year of college and that doing so would benefit him, but overall they were high on his ability.
He is a starting caliber lineman in the NFL, but has some things to work on. At this point he is looked at as more of a run blocker as he struggles to block in the passing game. Most of that is due to his lack of mobility and athleticism. He may know the correct play most of the time but sometimes his mind moves faster than his body. He also has poor hand usage but that is something he should be able to learn. For a man of his size he does not use his hands to the best of his ability and can play weaker than he really is at times. There have also been some questions raised about his love for the game which is never a good sign. Overall, Smith should learn better techniques and raise his game to another level in the NFL. He may never be a dominating force in the league but he could be a solid NFL starting guard.
He was brought into Tampa Bay as a potential starter to help protect the rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston and Smith’s careers could be tied to each other’s for a long time to come. Smith would need to improve some in the passing game to help out Winston early on. He is still a bit of a project but he showed during the senior bowl that he had the ability to play with the best of the best at the college level.
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