Preston Smith was a four year player at Mississippi State University. He entered the 2015 NFL draft and went early in the second round, 38th overall, to the Washington Redskins. Smith played defensive end in college but will move to the linebacker positon with the Redskins, due to their defensive scheme. Smith is a 6’5” around 270 pound defensive player. He had good size as a defensive end but may have to shed a few pounds to make more plays all over the field as a linebacker. In his last year at Mississippi State, Smith did show the ability to make plays as he had over 40 tackles, 9 sacks, and even two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
His sack production greatly improved in 2014 after a couple of down years prior. Smith is known as a solid tackler who is in the right place at the right time. He can read the offense and uses his long arms to his advantage as a pass rusher or in the run game. He rarely misses a tackle but sometimes cannot get into the play in time as speed is a bit of an issue. Even though the Redskins play a 3-4 system, Smith will still basically be used a pass rusher in their defense. Although, he will have to make a few extra plays that he did not have to in college, which is where his lack of speed could become an issue. Smith was projected as a fourth round draft pick but shot up early in the second round after a great showing at the combine. He was top at his position in 4 out of the 7 drills at the combine and showed enough athleticism for the Redskins to take a chance on him.
Graphic via chargers
The one thing Preston Smith does have going for him is that he is considered a solid player against the pass or the run. He is a solid defender but does not have the “wow” factor of a great player. He does have some potential to get better but most likely will never be a huge difference maker. He could use a better motor but that figures to improve once he gets into better shape. He will need to learn NFL offenses and be able to make reads quick to make up for his lack of speed at the next level. He is the type of player that could stick around the NFL as a decent player but future pro bowls could be a bit ambitious. Smith is a good football player but it is possible the Redskins will be let down a little due to the high draft position they selected him with.
Graphic via cowboysblog