If like me you watched any of this year’s Senior Bowl then you’ve probably already heard the name Elerson Smith. But I also suspect you may not know very much about the Northern Iowa University defensive end / outside linebacker prospect, so I thought I’d profile him here in the second of our ‘Small School Sleepers’ series. 

Let’s start with that Senior Bowl performance, because having sat out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns it represented the first time in over a year that Smith had strapped on his pads and taken to the field.

And yet he didn’t look at all rusty. Smith had his name mentioned a number of times by the announcers due to involvement in plays and while he was credited with only 2 tackles (including one for a loss) he also had some key pressures that forced incompletions and a quarterback hit that was called for roughing the passer when quite clearly it wasn’t. 

Smith measured in at 6’6 1/2 and 262lbs at the Senior Bowl and has an incredible 83″ wingspan as well, so he has the sort of physical attributes that will undoubtedly interest teams in the NFL. 

He’s not someone who really should be under the radar if we’re being totally honest – his 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in the 2019 season, tacked onto his 7.5 sacks in 2018 when he was used more as a situational edge rusher should surely have garnered him some attention. 

Indeed, it is as a situational rusher that he most likely will add value to his team in the NFL. He isn’t the greatest in the run game based on his tape, often finding himself lacking in leverage when teams run to his side, and that’s why at least initially he will find himself limited to obvious passing situations as well as undoubtedly having a role to play on special teams as well. 

He’s played as a down lineman in 4-3 setups and also as an outside linebacker in 3-4 setups, and so should feel comfortable in any scheme. He’s also a highly energetic player who just keeps going and going which again will catch the eye of many coaches. 

Having all the tools is really what makes Elerson Smith stand out, and showing up at the Senior Bowl and putting on a show will only have made teams stand up and take even more notice of him than perhaps they were before. 

Look for him to go in the first half of day three – I’ve got him as my 21st ranked EDGE right now which probably lands him on the cusp of rounds 4 and 5.  

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