Because of the rare depth at pass rusher in this draft, the Saints could elect to gamble that a pro-ready edge rusher like Smith will still be available with their second pick of the opening round. Smith isn't as explosive off the edge as some of the others, but his length and physicality fit in with the parameters that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has looked for in the past.
An ideal fit at left defensive end, Smith and Demarcus Lawrence would provide the Cowboys with a formidable duo long-term on the edges.
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STRENGTHS: Boasts an impressive wingspan and heavy hands to engage and dispose of blockers, using an array of rush moves to tear through blocks. Smith also lines up as a 1-technique lineman inside on obvious passing downs, using his initial quickness and power to penetrate the A-gap and create interior pressure.
WEAKNESSES: Is not a quick-twitch rusher and rarely beats offensive tackles with speed off the edge.
As a first-year starter as a junior in 2013, Smith finished with 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, but he has far exceeded those totals, leading the 2014 Bulldogs with 7.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
While not a dynamic threat, Smith plays motivated and has the versatile skill-set that will be attractive to pro scouts.
03/05/2015 - Edge rushers the story at Arkansas, Mississippi State...Meanwhile in Starkville, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and defensive end Preston Smith elected to stand on their solid Combine performances and elected only to participate in positional drills. Not surprisingly, each excelled, demonstrating the length and range that led to each prospect earning top 100 projections on NFLDraftScout.com's board. Of the two, the 6-foot-5, 271 pound Smith was said to have the slightly more impressive workout, according to a league scout on hand. Smith showed impressive agility and strength throughout the defensive line drills and showed some body control when changing directions while dropping and even catching passes. The 6-foot-4, 246 pound McKinney showed "light feet and quick, heavy hands" during pass rush drills - traits that have scouts from 3-4 and 4-3 teams alike intrigued. The scout estimated that every team in the league was represented. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com