Smith served as a moveable chess piece on the Cardinals' defense throughout his career, logging time at every position along the defensive line as well as a stand-up outside linebacker.Optimists will view him as a hybrid defender capable of finding a niche in any scheme. Others will see Smith as a 'tweener prospect who struggles to handle double-teams at the line and lacks the elite athleticism to develop into an impact playmaker in the NFL.
STRENGTHS: Broad-shouldered, long-armed athlete. Good initial quickness out of the three-point stance, showing enough burst to cross the face of offensive tackles on the perimeter. Good club move to break free from pass blockers as well as the power to effectively push opponents into the pocket on the bull rush. Alert defender who locates the ball quickly and shows good balance to pursue laterally and downfield. Shows vision and savvy as a walk-up blitzer, timing his rush with the snap nicely to penetrate his initial gap or when looping on stunts. Awareness and underrated athleticism evident when asked to cover tight ends and slot receivers on underneath routes. Gets an effective jam on his target and is athletic enough to handle coverage duties for a few yards. Physical, reliable tackler who wraps his arms securely and arrives with a thud. Good strength to rip away at the ball while making the tackle. WEAKNESSES: May be viewed as a 'tweener by some. Strong enough to create a pile in the running game but struggles against double-teams. Productive pass rusher but many of his sacks (and pressures) come while looping in untouched on stunts. Quicker and more powerful than most opponents at this level but does not possess much variety in his pass rush technique. Too often gets caught up in the hand-fighting at the line of scrimmage. A bit stiff in his midsection, showing only fair ability to bend and explode around the corner and may not possess preferred straight-line speed. COMPARES TO: Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns - Like Sheard, Smith is a productive, albeit undersized pass rusher. While neither is an elite athlete, each plays with just enough burst, power and savvy to win as either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 rush linebacker. --Rob Rang (2/3/14)
01/01/2014 - Risers-Fallers from early bowl games...In the Louisville Cardinals' impressive victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl, it was hard not to get distracted by Teddy Bridgewater's brilliance. Former quarterback Marcus Smith was nearly as impressive on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals, however, demonstrating the fluidity and power to intrigue scouts working for 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, alike. The All-American showed off the traits to earn a significantly higher grade than the 5th round projection NFLDraftScout.com currently has for him -- if he continues his impressive final campaign with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com