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2017 NFL Draft Round 6 #189: Rams select Tanzel Smart, DL, Tulane

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  • 2017 NFL Draft Round 6 #189: Rams select Tanzel Smart, DL, Tulane


    5.24 SEC
    22 REPS
    27.0 INCH
    105.0 INCH
    7.53 SEC
    4.57 SEC

    32 7/8"
    9 5/8"

    Even though Smart grew up in Baton Rouge and was a first-team all-state pick, he did not get a chance to play SEC football, so he went to nearby Tulane to show his wares. Playing in every game as a freshman, he was credited with 14 tackles. Then he was rewarded with a starting role each of the next three seasons, increasing his production from his sophomore (47 tackles, 6.5 for loss, two sacks), junior (62 stops, 15 for loss, two sacks), and senior (67 tackles, 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks) seasons. He was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference pick in both 2015 and 2016 for his efforts.

    STRENGTHS Excited to play football on every single rep. Times up snap and is quick into the neutral zone. Always searching for the ball. Uses hand quickness to disengage and tackle on time. Good football instincts and quick to recognize and react to screens. Plays with quick hands and quick feet that get him in position to make plays. Gets to blocker's edge with low center of gravity to drive up the field and disrupt. Able to fill a stat sheet up against both run and pass. Feet and hands are a whirlwind of action that never stop looking for improved positioning. Catches blockers under their pads and has the leg drive to bull them back into the pocket.

    WEAKNESSES Short and squatty frame. Matched up against below average competition on most weeks. Plays straight-legged which limits his change of direction. Lack of length causes him to swing and miss in tackle attempts against shifty runners. May not have enough raw power to make up for his lack of size. Long-armed guards can stab his chest and stick him in neutral.


    NFL COMPARISON Rakeem Nunez-Roches

    BOTTOM LINE He's a three-technique only who lacks desired size and length, but his quickness and disruptive nature lead to consistent production week in and week out. Smart needs to be in an upfield scheme that takes advantage of his ability to play in the gaps. His draft stock will take a hit due to his lack of measurables, but he has NFL backup potential thanks to his ability to rush the passer.

  • #2

    The PFF analysis team breaks down the prospects of Tulane's Tanzel Smart ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    PFF ANALYSIS TEAM | 1 MONTH AGO (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Name: Tanzel Smart

    School: Tulane

    Position: 3- and 5-technique, best in a one-gap scheme

    Stats to know: Had 42 total pressures in 2014 and 2015 but finished 2016 with 47 pressures.

    What he does best:
    • Dominant bull rusher, bullied interior offensive lineman with his power.
    • Great hand placement, able to turn OL during his power rush sequence.
    • Willing to go through resistance if that is the quickest path to the QB.
    • Solid pass rush production with 7 sacks, 7 hits and 33 hurries in 2016.
    • Strength to toss linemen when up to full speed.
    • Delivers a shocking strike regularly on first contact.
    • Exceptional burst off the line, undercuts down blocks with quickness into the backfield.
    • Effective on line slants and stunts, able to redirect once he reads play direction.
    • Fights off cut blocks, able to regain balance after initial shed.
    • Football instincts, can diagnose concepts.
    • Had a solid showing at Senior Bowl week, finishing with a QB hit and a run stop during the game.

    Biggest concern:
    • Struggles to consistently finish, gets very high with his tackle attempts.
    • Could use further refinement as a pass-rusher, lacks variety.
    • Struggles to hold the point against vs double teams.
    • Lacks ideal size for an NFL defensive tackle.
    • Tendency to jump pre-snap in an effort to get upfield as quickly as possible.

    Player comparison: Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills

    Williams has never allowed his height to detract from his production. Smart also plays at 6-foot-1, and similarly understands the advantage of leverage. The pair share the versatility to play a number of roles, as well as the power to deny quarterbacks a clean platform. Doing the dirty work comes naturally to both and Smart could develop into a complete player at the next level.

    Bottom line: Smart is unlikely to garner much attention in this draft process. Looking deeper, however, Smart displays many of the traits required to succeed in the NFL. He possesses the athleticism and strength to eliminate running plays in the backfield, as well as collapse the pocket. Smart represents a wise investment.


    • #3
      2017 NFL Draft wake-up call: Tulane DT Tanzel Smart
      By: Luke Easterling | June 5, 2016 6:50 pm ET

      *In this series, Draft Wire will take a look at sleeper prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft heading into the 2016 college football season.

      When it comes to the top interior defensive lineman in next year’s NFL Draft class, the major college football programs certainly have plenty of blue-chip talent they’ll be sending to the pro ranks.

      But if you’re looking beyond the usual suspects for a disruptive, powerful anchor in the middle of the defensive line, Tulane’s Tanzel Smart (No. 77) might just be your man.

      A 6-1, 304-pound in-state product, Smart’s production and durability are the first things that jump off the page. A full-time starter since the beginning of his sophomore campaign, Smart has made 24 consecutive starts in the middle for the Green Wave. After signing with Tulane as a three-star recruit, Smart appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman.

      His 15 tackles for loss and 62 total tackles in 2015 helped him earn 1st-team All-Conference USA honors.

      But production and longevity and at the college don’t necessary correlate to NFL success. So what makes Smart such an attractive prospect? A single series from 2014 (Smart’s sophomore season) against Memphis shows the traits that will allow Smart to make a successful transition to the pro game.

      High Motor
      In the play below, you’ll see Smart’s relentlessness pay off as he moves through multiple would-be blockers to take down Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, who was a first-round pick in the 2016 draft.

      Smart often commands double-teams, which makes his willingness to continue to fight through traffic and not give up on the play extremely valuable. NFL coaches love players with this kind of mentality, and it will bode well for him at the next level.

      Hand Usage
      Just moments later, Smart gets to Lynch yet again, but using different arrows from his quiver of pass-rushing skills. He uses his hands effectively do keep the blocker from engaging him at the point of attack, then uses his quickness to bend around him and into the quarterback for another sack.

      It’s much harder for prospects to succeed in the NFL if they’re one-trick ponies. If a player’s only means of getting the job done is taken away, they’d better have something else to go to. Smart will benefit from his varied skill set, which allows him to win in multiple ways.

      Read & React
      Go ahead and make all the “smart” puns you want, but Tanzel’s intelligence is a key part of his game. On this play, he blows up a read-option play with a combination of explosiveness and the ability to locate the ball quickly and change direction on the fly.

      It’s one thing to explode into the backfield and make a big play when a ball-carrier runs right into you, but it’s much more difficult to find the ball as the runner gets it and moves away from you, forcing you to change your trajectory and track him down in the other direction. Smart pulls this off perfectly here.

      The Bottom Line
      Smart lines up all along the interior for the Green Wave, from the three-technique in four-man fronts to the nose tackle spot in a three-man alignment. He’s got the power to take on multiple blockers and still impact the play, but is quick and explosive enough to take advantage of 1-on-1 matchups.


      • #4
        Tulane DT Tanzel Smart hopes going low raises his NFL Draft status
        By Jim Kleinpeter, | The Times-Picayune
        on March 05, 2017 at 12:21 PM, updated March 05, 2017 at 1:12 PM

        INDIANAPOLIS -- Tulane's Tanzel Smart is hoping the trend for NFL defensive tackles going low can continue since it plays to his strength.

        At 6-foot-1 and 296 pounds, he's not the overpowering type but he fits the mold of some successful NFL tackles, such as the Rams' Aaron Donald (6-0, 302), Denver's Geno Atkins (6-1, 302) and the Saints' Sheldon Rankins (6-2, 307).

        Pretty good company, indeed.

        "I feel like it is (trending to smaller DTs)," Smart said. "There's a lot of guys with my body structure and my height doing real good right now. I have a good chance of going to the NFL and doing a good job.

        "I love Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Sheldon Rankins. They're very explosive."

        Smart may not be quite the prospect as the aforementioned trio. He's generally seen as a late second-day or third-day pick. But he's getting good feedback about his abilities in meetings at the NFL Scouting Combine here.

        What do the teams like about the three-year Green wave starter from Baton Rouge?

        "My get off, my low center of gravity; a lot of people like my effort," Smart said Saturday. "They said that takes you a long way. I know the coaches were saying running to the ball and playing all out is important. You're not going to last long in the league if you're not giving good effort."

        Smart has been showing that on tape during a career in which he had 40 tackles for loss in his last three years and 9.5 sacks. The ability to stay under offensive linemen blocking him and his short area quickness makes him desirable. His 5.24 clocking in the 40 was relatively strong of a 296-pounder who seldom has to run 40 yards.

        "(It's about) making plays and you're going to be on the field and make money," he said. "That's where it's at. It doesn't matter the size, what matters is the heart. If you make plays, they have to put you on he field."

        Smart knows his weaknesses, too. praises his ability to stay low and position himself.

        "Excited to play football on every single rep," Lance Zierlein writes. "Times up snap and is quick into the neutral zone. Always searching for the ball. Uses hand quickness to disengage and tackle on time. Good football instincts and quick to recognize and react to screens."

        On the downside, Zierlein says he may not have enough strength to make up for his lack of size: "Short and squatty frame. Matched up against below average competition on most weeks. Plays straight-legged, which limits his change of direction. Lack of length causes him to swing and miss in tackle attempts against shifty runners."

        Smart, who did 22 reps with 225 poujnds in the bench press Saturday, said his focus has been on his footwork.

        "Efficient footwork so I won't be all over the place playing blocks," he said. "The great (defensive line) coach Pete Jenkins said, if you don't have a good base, you can't be a good football player."

        Especially for defensive tackles playing it low.


        • #5
          Key word is Durable in all this. Durable depth I will take

          All bets are Goff


          • #6
            Alden Gonzalez
            @Alden_Gonzalez 3m3 minutes ago
            New Rams DT Tanzel Smart, an undersized interior lineman: "I really want to learn a lot from Aaron Donald."


            • #7
              I like it , good job drafting capable depth


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