April 28, 2023
In the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles improbably ended up with DT Jalen Carter and edge rusher Nolan Smith. Here we'll take a look around at what the rest of the NFC East teams did in Round 1.
• Commanders, Pick 16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State: Forbes is ball-hawking corner with 14 INTs last three seasons for Mississippi State, six of which he returned for touchdowns. His confidence jumps off the screen:
Forbes may be the most skilled corner in this draft class, which is why he snuck into the first half of the first round. BUT... at 6'1, 166, he is extremely skinny, so there will be concerns about his durability and physicality at the next level. It will be interesting to see how he holds up against a guy, like, oh, saaayyy, A.J. Brown, who will have 60 pounds on him.
• Giants, Pick 24: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland: Banks had just 1 INT and 3 pass breakups over his first three seasons (16 games) at Maryland, but was thought of as a breakout player in 2022 with 8 pass breakups and a pick. At 6'0, 197, Banks has decent size with sticky man-to-man coverage abilities.
Banks tore up the Combine, running a 4.35 40 and vertical jumping 42".
If Banks had more takeaway production, he would be talked about as a top half of the first round type of prospect. At pick 24, he is decent enough value, and the Giants have obvious needs at corner.
• Cowboys, Pick 26: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan: Smith was a huge, run-stuffing nose tackle in the middle of Michigan's highly ranked run defense. He was ranked No. 1 on Bruce Feldman's "freaks" list last summer.
His former teammate, Aidan Hutchinson, almost was our top guy in 2021, but this year a Wolverine is the No. 1 Freak in college football. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with. But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 33 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.
This is pretty nuts for a 323-pound guy:
How freaky is Michigan DT Mazi Smith?— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 10, 2022
This is the Wolverines' reactive plyo stairs test.
Smith did it in 2.82 seconds. Aiden Hutchinson (who is 60lbs lighter) did it in 2.57.@BruceFeldmanCFB's Freaks List: https://t.co/EDCa2DoBIP
🎥 @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/AiTXQDIbsh
Smith doesn't have impressive stats, and he had a concerning arrest last year, but he is a physical beast with obvious speed and power traits.
#Michigan NT Mazi Smith (#58) was awesome Saturday vs. Maryland. Credited with 8 tackles and 4 pressures.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 25, 2022
Ranked No. 1 on @BruceFeldmanCFB Freak List, Smith’s freaky testing numbers are showing more and more on the field. pic.twitter.com/q5n6TuDNne
The question is... Was Smith worthy of the 26th overall pick. Daniel Jeremiah had him 43rd on his big board. Dane Brugler had him 39th. Mel Kiper had him 30th. The Cowboys evidently had him 13th or 14th, per Jerry Jones:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he believes NT Mazi Smith was the No. 13 or 14 player on draft board. “But who gives a s---? We got him.” pic.twitter.com/fgA2XeCqHc— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) April 28, 2023
Smith is a good player, but this does feel like a slight reach.
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