Following an impressive performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith has seen a dramatic boost in his 2021 NFL Draft stock. Can he become the first East Carolina offensive tackle to be drafted since Guy Whimper in the 2006 NFL Draft?
D’Ante Smith NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: East Carolina
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’5 3/8″
- Weight: 305 pounds
- Wingspan: 85 1/5″
- Arms: 35 1/4″
- Hands: 10″
Tony Pauline’s D’Ante Smith Scouting Report
Positives: Three-year starter at left tackle who projects to guard in the NFL. Sets with a wide base, bends his knees, and stays square. Works his hands throughout the action, keeps his feet moving, and makes good use of angles as well as body positioning. Strong, anchors in pass protection and controls opponents once engaged in a block.
Very effective with his hands, jolts defenders with a punch, and keeps his head on a swivel. Plays with a nasty attitude and attacks defenders. Smooth and fluid getting out to the second level then seals linebackers from the action.
Negatives: Struggles adjusting and gets exploited by inside moves. On the ground too much, and must improve his blocking balance. Lacks quick and smooth footwork off the edge.
Analysis: Smith was a consistent lineman for East Carolina but will be best in confined quarters at the next level. He’s an offensive guard with possibilities in a zone-blocking scheme if he improves his balance and finishes his game.
D’Ante Smith Player Profile
A transfer from Laney High School in Augusta, D’Ante Smith began his path to the NFL Draft as a sophomore at Grovetown High School, Georgia. A mountain of a man, he was a heavyweight wrestler before hitting the football field. The strength gained in wrestling made him a mauler on the football field as a standout offensive tackle.
Smith’s performances for Grovetown began to give him notoriety. As a junior, he competed in the Central Savannah River Area Junior Bowl and the Georgia Elite Junior Classic. In 2015, he helped Georgia to a win over South Carolina in the CSRA Border Bowl. Furthermore, he was ranked as the second-best linemen at The Opening Combine in Atlanta.
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An All-County, All-Area, and All-Region honoree as a junior and senior, Smith was ranked as a three-star recruit by 247 Sports. Despite getting attention in various events, he was ranked as just the 116th offensive tackle in the nation and the 131st ranked player in the state of Georgia.
Although he took an early recruiting visit to SEC powerhouse Georgia, his early offers came from smaller programs. He committed to Appalachian State in July 2015. However, coaching changes at East Carolina late in the process saw Smith flip his commitment to the Pirates following a January 2016 visit.
D’Ante Smith’s college football career at East Carolina
Much like his NFL Draft stock, D’Ante Smith’s college career got off to a slow start. Although he played in the season opener against Western Carolina, the East Carolina offensive tackle suffered a season-ending injury. The following year, he made five starts for the Pirates, four at left tackle and one at guard.
In his third year with the program, Smith made a major leap in his football career. Starting all 12 games at left tackle, he helped pass protect for an offense that ranked 20th in the nation in passing yards per game. The 2018 East Carolina offense had three 500-yard games. He provided leadership on the field, acting as a team captain in eight games.
D’Ante Smith continued to build momentum towards his NFL Draft stock in 2019
Once again starting all 12 games at left tackle, the offense ranked 22nd in the nation while allowing just 1.4 sacks per game. D’Ante Smith spent another eight games as a team captain. For the first time in his college career, he was recognized nationally. The East Carolina offensive tackle was named to the Phil Steele All-American Athletic Conference Third Team.
Unfortunately for both himself and the Pirates, Smith’s college career ended in much the same way it started. He started the season at left tackle. However, following an undisclosed injury, he wouldn’t suit up for the Pirates again. With two weeks left of the regular season, East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing D’Ante Smith’s NFL Draft Profile
Despite starting every game from 2018-2019, D’Ante Smith’s NFL Draft stock really caught fire at the Senior Bowl.
He practiced across the offensive line, lining up at left tackle, guard, and even taking snaps at right tackle. He was impressive during one-on-one drills, winning reps against highly-regarded defensive linemen such as Miami’s Quincy Roche.
Even before hitting the practice field, Smith was one of the winners of the week purely based on measurements alone. He measured in a remarkable 20 pounds heavier than the weight listed by East Carolina.
With his frame as one concern, that is huge for D’Ante Smith’s NFL Draft stock. Another huge attribute is his arm measurement. Given that the perceived magic number for NFL offensive tackles is 34″, Smith’s 35 1/4″ measurement drew a lot of attention.
Length and mobility the key attributes for D’Ante Smith.
As it pertains to being an NFL Draft prospect, East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith obviously offers great length. He’s tall, long, and demonstrates an ability to use that length to keep defensive linemen at bay. He also showcases good hand use, with strong hands helping to force defensive linemen away from him. As a former wrestler, Smith exhibits a good understanding of leverage and showcases good footwork.
He also demonstrates excellent mobility. This helps him in pass protection as he is quick to get into his pass sets. Additionally, in the run game, he demonstrates an impressive ability to get out to the next level. His wrestling background has given him the “mauler” mentality, and there are plenty of examples on film of him finishing his assignment with a nasty streak.
What are some potential concerns with D’Ante Smith?
There are, of course, potential concerns with East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith as an NFL Draft prospect. As mentioned earlier, they start with his frame. Although he weighed in at 294 pounds at the Senior Bowl, he still possesses a lean frame. He could benefit to add maybe 10-15 pounds of muscle before he’s in consideration as an NFL offensive tackle. Luckily, he did this at his pro day.
One of the questions that teams will want answers to is around his injury history. Smith has now missed two full seasons due to injury. The injury in 2020 was never disclosed to the media, which raises concerns about the severity. He plays with a brace on both knees so is there an issue there?
Although Smith has shown impressive development between his early career and now, there are still too many examples on tape of Smith lunging at defensive linemen. This can lead to him losing his balance and ending up on the floor. He needs to consistently exhibit better body control and balance if he is to be a successful offensive lineman in the NFL.
D’Ante Smith’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
The question is not so much what are the best fits for East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith in the 2021 NFL Draft, but what position might he play?
Smith could easily make a developmental tackle prospect with the potential to be an eventual starter. However, he looked best at the Senior Bowl when he was lined up inside. If he lands on a team that operates a zone-blocking scheme, that would make great use of his mobility in the run game.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists him as a guard. Pauline ranks D’Ante Smith as the third-best guard prospect in this 2021 NFL Draft class. He also lists him as his 64th ranked overall prospect with a second-round grade.
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