Falcons Draft Profile Nolan Smith: Strengths, weaknesses, prediction

Oregon v Georgia
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Strengths and weaknesses


As I just mentioned, Nolan Smith is fast and it is apparent on the football field. He can fly off the line and get right past his blocker before they can blink an eye. It is crazy because he has wide receiver speed yet will be going up against some of the slowest players on the field.

His bend is excellent, he could run under a table and not lose a digit on the speedometer. He will dip right under offensive tackles who are already caught off guard by his burst. His lateral speed is crazy and when you combine that with his bend, he is able to identify and fly through gaps in the offensive line.

The pop in his hands and his overall power are surprising for his size. You can see why Georgia kept him at edge rusher. And he has a quick move to the inside. While it isn't to an elite level by any means, his ability to produce when having to take blockers head-on is surprising.


When talking about his weaknesses, you have to start with his size, it is a legit concern. College offensive tackles are one thing but offensive tackles in the NFL are excellent athletes and if you can't win without power, you aren't going to be consistent (ala Vic Beasley). Hopefully, his aforementioned surprising power will be enough to get by. And he definitely will not hold up against double teams.

Outside of that, he has an inconsistent first step, and much of it is due to him reacting to the offensive tackle instead of the snap. If he can keep one eye on the football in the middle, then he should be able to torch offensive tackles on the first step.

At Georgia, he had limited production through four seasons. He had a career-high 4.5 sacks in 2021. He did miss the end of last season with a torn pectoral muscle that he has seemingly recovered from. And then, for what it is worth, he is not good in coverage, so using him off the ball won't be an option.


Nolan Smith is a dynamic athlete off the edge, and that is putting it lightly. He is also a very undersized player for his position which is cause for concern even with his surprising power. If he can start using the snap of the football as his 'green light' instead of the offensive tackle, then he should reach new heights. Smith has not come close to his ceiling yet and it isn't hard to imagine him being a better player at the NFL level.

Biggest strength: Burst & bend

Biggest weakness: Size

Grade: B+