STRENGTHS: NFL scouts can check quite a few boxes when watching the Penn State tackle. Smith has the size, foot quickness and the high competitive nature that translates well to the next level. Smith slides smoothly to his left, maintaining the arc with good knee bend in pass protection. He flashes violent hands to control defenders and generally keeps his feet shuffling laterally to mirror. He's quick to the second level and understands blocking angles, using his massive frame to legally get in the way of pursuing defenders without grasping on and drawing the flag. Smith is cognizant against the blitz, peeling off of his initial assignment, if needed, to get a quick shove on surprise rushers. Big and athletic enough to move to any of the other exterior positions, giving his future OL coach a lot of flexibility if Smith isn't able to handle NFL speed off the edge.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to improve in several areas before NFL ready, most notably with his arm and hand technique to better shield himself to combat rushers' initial pass rush moves. Smith has a bad habit of playing too high and needs to improve his knee bend, but the culprit there appears to be lack of consistent technique, not lack of flexibility. Does a nice job of protecting the corner but will get caught leaning outside and leave too much space inside. Flashes explosiveness with his punch but too often is satisfied with catching defenders and will lean into them as he tires. In doing so, Smith bends at the waist, leaving himself vulnerable to swims and spins. Wears double knee braces.
--Dane Brugler, Rob Rang
With a degree in criminology in hand, Smith elected to leave Penn State with a year of eligiblity remaining, though with 31 career starts -- all at left tackle -- he's hardly inexperienced.
Smith looks the part of a big-time NFL tackle, sporting broad shoulders, long arms and his 320+ pounds are evenly distributed over his frame. He's surprisingly light on his feet, making him effective both in pass protection and run blocking. The problem with Smith is consistency -- he struggled with it in 2014 -- and thus comes with some risk.
03/22/2015 - Five Takeaways from this week's Pro Day workouts: 4. Sleepers at Penn State? As an early graduate, junior left tackle Donovan Smith was allowed to participate at the Senior Bowl and performed well there. He carried over that positive momentum at his Pro Day, shaving 13 pounds since the weigh-in in Mobile, Ala., and the 6-foot-6, 328-pounder looked very good in positional drills, according to a source on the scene. Smith might be ranked lower in the media than in the NFL. The three-year starting left tackle is likely to be the first player from Penn State selected this year and there were "several" scouts and offensive line coaches watching him closely during his drills, I'm told, including several representatives of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles. In all 30 NFL teams were represented at the workout. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com