Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith wowed at the NFL Combine on Thursday and we look at NFL mock draft fits for the Bulldogs pass-rusher.
Who would’ve thought that the Georgia Bulldogs coming off of back-to-back national championship wins would have more freaks to send to the NFL Draft? There are several in the 2023 NFL Draft class but, after Thursday’s workouts at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, everyone has edge rusher Nolan Smith on the brain.
Smith went out, despite still recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered midway through Georgia’s season, and just tore up the athletic testing. He led all defensive ends with a 41.5-inch vertical jump — the only prospect to clear 40 inches — the third-best broad jump at 10-foot-8 at the position, and then gave the grand finale with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash with a 1.52-second 10-yard split.
That time was faster than the 4.44 seconds unofficially announced and the 10-yard split is the fastest time by an edge rusher in the history of the NFL Combine. All of this at 6-foot-2, 238 pounds.
Smith is a complete monster athletically and his potential is going to make him a possible first-round pick. But which teams should draft him? These three come to mind quickly as great fits for the Georgia star.
NFL mock draft: Best Nolan Smith fit No. 3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
When you think about the great edge rushers that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had over the years, they’ve had their best success when it comes to highly twitched-up athletes who have great burst and bend that they can get after opposing quarterbacks with.
T.J. Watt obviously fits that bill but we’ve also seen it with the emergence of Alex Highsmith over the past couple of seasons. Highsmith was exceptionally raw coming out of college but the athletic traits were there and we’ve seen Mike Tomlin and the Steelers coaching staff mold him into a highly effective player.
With that said, Pittsburgh needs to keep the mill turning when it comes to their edge rushers, even if they plan to lock up Highsmith and already have Watt on the books for the long haul. That’s where Smith could come in.
Nolan Smith is far more developed as a player than Highsmith but still fits that all-potential type of mold overall. Especially if the Steelers want to trade back in the first round, taking the Georgia product would make a ton of sense for Pittsburgh to keep their defense a strength.