The Falcons are in a prime position to take the best player available in next month’s draft. Terry Fontenot has bolstered the roster, leaving very few glaring holes, thus enabling the team to stay flexible in the NFL Draft. This continues a series highlighting potential targets as we move on to Georgia’s Nolan Smith.
- DT Jalen Carter
- QB Anthony Richardson
- RB Bijan Robinson
- DB Brian Branch
- QB C.J. Stroud
- QB Bryce Young
- QB Will Levis
- EDGE Will Anderson
- OT Paris Johnson Jr.
- CB Devon Witherspoon
- EDGE Myles Murphy
- CB Christian Gonzalez
- EDGE Tyree Wilson
The former Dawg stands 6-2 and weighs 238 pounds, which is extremely small for his position. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in athleticism. He lit the NFL Combine on fire, running a 4.39 40-yard dash with a 1.52 10-yard split. He certainly has a track record the Falcons are looking for — 11.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 78 quarterback pressures in 46 games for the Bulldogs.
Moreover, Nolan Smith is Georgia grown and a fan favorite, given most Dawgs are also Falcons fans. Smith expressed to Maria Martin of 11AliveNews how much he’d value staying home. “I’m a hometown kid and it’d just mean a lot to me,” he said. “It just seems like they see a future in me and that they really want to keep me home.”
The Falcons hired Ryan Nielsen over from New Orleans to be the team’s defensive coordinator, and Nolan Smith doesn’t exactly fit the Saints’ scheme. Still, any competent coordinator won’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. I expect the system to have similar bones but will be tweaked to accentuate Atlanta’s personnel better.
With the Saints, Nielsen’s defensive front assumed an even front with two massive defenders to set the edge; Smith is undersized for that role. Again, good coordinators fit their system to their players, not the other way around. And the Falcons already have similar personnel in Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.
Nolan Smith is a talented player. He was a consensus top-10 prospect for much of the year until he suffered a season-ending injury. However, I still think he could sneak into the top 10. He didn’t just forget how to play football; a pectoral injury isn’t as detrimental as an ACL or Achilles injury. Smith will be a productive piece in an NFL defense.
John Adams/Icon Sportswire
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