Top 10 Potential Fits for the Patriots: #8 Preston Smith, DL/Edge, Mississippi State

Right now, the Patriots have no "Smith" on their roster. Will this change on draft day? - Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Part 3 of this 10-part series of highlighting which players in either Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft would be great fit for the Patriots. We started off with Oregon LT Jake Fisher at #10 and Iowa DT Carl Davis at #9. Next we will profile Mississippi State defensive lineman Preston Smith.

Scouting Reports:

CBS Sports

Combine Numbers:

HT: 6'5"
WT: 270
Arm: 34"
40: 4.74
10: 1.60
Vertical: 34"
Broad Jump: 10'1"
Shuttle: 4.28
3-Cone: 7.07



Vs. Kentucky

Vs. Texas A&M

How Does He Fit the Patriots? Preston Smith is versatile on the defensive line, and can play from NT to OLB. If the Patriots utilize Preston Smith, he should be able to fit almost any defensive scheme they play. In a 3-4, he'd play OLB since he's good at setting the edge and dropping into coverage. If they went hybrid gap system that they've run since 2011, he could play the strong-side defensive end role. In the nickel package, Smith would has the versatility to play inside and outside. From his tape, he was able to beat guards and centers rather easily to get pressure on the QB. Depending on the situation, he could be a rotational piece in the nickel package (2-4-5) as both an edge and interior rusher. When the Patriots go 2-3-6 dime in obvious passing situations, Smith and slide further inside to the nose (a match-up Smith should win easily).

Grade: 3rd round pick

Bottom Line: Preston Smith offers the versatility to line up from any spot on the defensive front, from the 0 to 7-technique. He also is athletic enough to play a 3-4 OLB spot as evidenced from his combine numbers. Those same combine numbers are almost identical to Patriots DE Chandler Jones, although I would call Jones the superior athlete. While Smith offers solid speed and agility measurables, the agility measurables don't show up on tape at times. Smith doesn't have the bend that most elite pass rush prospects have, but he's a hard-working player with good length who can set the edge and drop into coverage if asked. He's not going to post big numbers or wow people on the screen, but there's a lot in his game to appreciate.

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