All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We’ve listed players, such as wide receiver Mike Williams (2010), wide receiver Arrelious Benn (2010), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (2010), quarterback Josh Freeman (2009), wide receiver Dexter Jackson (2008), offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (2008), quarterback Josh Johnson (2008), defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs’ Best Bets sections of Pewter Report’s annual Bucs Draft Preview.
As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report’s resident draft experts, Scott Reynolds and Charlie Campbell, have spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds and Campbell are armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay’s schemes on offense and defense.
These regular Pewter Prospect profiles on PewterReport.com will scout out players that are candidates for the Buccaneers to select in next April's draft. Pewter Report's predictions of who the Bucs will take will be in the Bucs' Best Bets in the digital Bucs Draft Preview magazine and the Bucs 7 Round Mock Draft on the website.
Will one of these players wind up being the next Barrett Ruud, Mike Williams or Josh Johnson? We’ll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
MISSOURI DEFENSIVE END ALDON SMITH
VITAL STATS: The Missouri Tigers standout Smith checks in at 6-foot-5, 260-pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Smith had 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
In Smith’s brief collegiate career he established himself as a pass rushing force in the Big 12. As a red-shirt freshman in 2009, Smith totaled 64 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, five passes batted, one forced fumble, and 11.5 sacks. Last year Smith played in nine games after missing a few games in the middle of the season with a broken fibula. Smith finished out the year in the lineup and recorded 48 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, one interception, and 5.5 sacks. Smith was a consensus Freshman All-American for his 2009 season.
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER
The biggest need on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster is at the defensive end position. Starters Stylez White and Tim Crowder are free agents and may not be re-signed. Holdovers Michael Bennett, Alex Magee, and Kyle Moore are all expected to compete for roster spots and roles on the defense, but Tampa Bay does not have definite starters at either left or right end entering the 2011 offseason. The Bucs are believed to be targeting defensive end with their first-round pick. The Buccaneers badly need an edge rusher to force quarterbacks to step up towards pass rushing defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. The last double-digit sack season for a Bucs player came in 2005 with Simeon Rice.
Smith is this year’s Jason Pierre-Paul type prospect, a superb athlete that has a lot of question marks surrounding him. The difference between Smith and JPP is that Smith produced more at the college level.
There is no doubt that Smith has the explosive first step, athleticism, and pure speed to excel at the NFL level. At the same time so have many first round busts in years past. Smith’s 2009 season and skill set makes him a first round prospect that could turn into one of the NFL’s better pass rushers.
Smith also has the frame to get bigger and add more strength. That, with good coaching on technique, could turn Smith into a quality run defender. At Missouri Smith was a pass rushing specialist more than anything else.
Smith has very quick get-off when the ball is snapped, and his elite first-step quickness puts offensive linemen at a real disadvantage. Smith is adept at using his speed to beat tackles around the edge and turn to the quarterback. While it is hard to judge based on college evaluation alone, Smith looks like he has the natural agility to sink his hips and shoulder to get pointed to the quarterback and finish off his rushes by getting to the passer. He has fantastic cutting ability with sudden stop and start speed that makes him very difficult to block. With the proper coaching, time to develop, and patience from an organization Smith could develop into a true threat as a right defensive end pass rusher.
In the Buccaneers defensive system Smith would be a good fit. His skill set would make him the Bucs most talented defensive end and probably the starting right defensive end immediately.
At Missouri Smith would rush from the defensive tackle position in certain situations. It wasn’t just a gimmick as Smith gave guards a lot of trouble in pass protection. He probably wouldn’t be called on to do that in Tampa Bay due to the Bucs already having McCoy and Price, but that kind of versatility will appeal to Bucs head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY
There are a lot of question marks surrounding Smith entering the draft. Smith started playing football late, and there are many that are concerned that Smith doesn’t love playing football and is only playing for the money. The questions surrounding Smith’s motivations and his work ethic were definitely scrutinized by teams at the combine.
As a player Smith needs a lot of development as well. After watching tapes of his game he clearly needs to work on his technique in run defense. He gets pushed around too easily. Smith needs to develop more football functional strength to fight NFL offensive linemen. His modest combine bench press is an indicator of that.
Smith also needs work on his pass rushing moves. Right now he is too reliant on his superb speed and athleticism. That alone won’t make Smith an effective pass rusher. Smith needs to work on a rip move, spin move, and hand shedding technique.
Medically Smith is going to have his leg examined thoroughly to make sure that he is not a candidate to re-fracture the fibula.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES
11/13/10 vs. Kansas State 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass batted
10/23/10 vs. Oklahoma 2 tackles, 1 interception returned 58 yards
10/31/09 at Colorado 5 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 3 sacks, 1 pass batted
10/24/09 vs. Texas 11 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks
9/25/09 at Nevada 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Smith is considered to be a mid first-round pick at this time.
In the highlight video above you can see Smith go up against a likely first-rounder in Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Smith had a massive game.
OTHER 2011 PEWTER PROSPECTS
Kentucky RB Derrick Locke
North Carolina DE Robert Quinn
Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks
Georgia DE/OLB Justin Houston
Florida G Mike Pouncey
North Carolina LB Bruce Carter
North Carolina State LB Nate Irving
Florida State G Rodney Hudson
Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod
Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Florida S Ahmad Black
Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara