NFL Draft prospect Nolan Smith compared to star Eagles defender

Robby Ashford #9, Auburn Tigers, Nolan Smith #4, Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Robby Ashford #9, Auburn Tigers, Nolan Smith #4, Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

The 2022-2023 NFL season was a fantastic campaign for Haason Reddick. His first year with the Philadelphia Eagles produced 58 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 26 additional quarterback hits, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three pass breakups. Those numbers include what he did during the postseason. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod and a Second-team All-Pro designation for his efforts.

Former Georgia Bulldogs standout Nolan Smith didn’t have the senior season that he was probably hoping for. He appeared in only eight games but collected 18 total tackles, including seven that resulted in a loss of yardage. He also stuck his head in on three sacks, giving him 110 total tackles with 12 TFLs and 12.5 sacks for his 38-game career. He’s a two-time College Football Playoff national champion.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. They’re both mentioned here because the latter was recently compared to the former. The very much respected Daniel Jeremiah and Next Gen Stats drew parallels between the two before the NFL Scouting Combine.

Take a look.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the comparisons continue between now and the coming NFL Draft. Smith’s athleticism is out of this world as is that of the guy that wears the Number 7 jersey for Philly.

Where Nolan Smith ranks is up for debate, but lines have been drawn that connect him as a potential prospect for the Eagles to monitor.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how these NCAA prospects are graded and who rises and falls as we move through the pre-draft process toward another selection meeting. There were a lot of guys who did themselves favors during the East-West Shrine Bowl, the most recent Senior Bowl, and March’s NFL Scouting Combine. The Philadelphia Eagles and all of the other 31 franchises were most certainly paying attention.

Pro Days and pre-draft visits come next. Now, we get to know guys on more personal levels. Nolan Smith, in Lance Zierlein’s pre-draft evaluation, earned a comp to Samson Ebukam and a grade of 6.24, meaning Zierlein believes he’ll eventually grow into an average starter, but he helped himself out with a phenomenal showing in Indianapolis.

Smith, at six-foot-two and 238 pounds, ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and showed off with a 41.5-inch vertical jump. Let’s put that in perspective.

Superior combine grades don’t guarantee NFL success, but they do reveal athletic talent. Only three linebackers in the event’s history have ever recorded a higher vertical. Smith ran the fastest time of any linebacker that participated in the 40 and a faster time than all but 15 total players. That includes the 40 times of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, etcetera.

As far as his draft stock is concerned, for now, as far as EDGE prospects go, we’d probably rank seven of his peers in this class higher. That list includes Will Anderson (Alabama), Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), Myles Murphy (Clemson), Tuli Tuipulotu (USC), Isaiah Foskey Notre Dame, Will McDonald (Iowa State), and Keion White (Georgia Tech) higher.

Still, when it’s all said and done, we could see Smith being drafted late in Round 1 or very early in Round 2. We’ll see if that theory changes between now and the end of April.