Year: Redshirt Junior
The Good: Mazi Smith is a freaking load of a DT prospect at 325lbs with nearly 34” arms, but don’t get him confused for a nose tackle who will just close his eyes and push forward. Smith is very twitched up for a NT; he didn’t top Bruce Feldman’s annual ‘Freaks List’ article by accident. Though Smith sadly didn’t test for the most part at the Combine, he flashed enough on tape as a pass rusher to prove that the hype around his tools isn’t a manufactured marketing campaign out of Ann Arbor. Smith also boasts absurd upper body strength. The one drill he completed at the Combine was the bench press, which is usually the dumbest drill but Smith’s count of 34 reps is a meaningful number (tied for second among all participants).
The Bad: Those in the NFL Draft community who are highest on Mazi Smith typically land there due to his ability against the run, but I don’t totally see it. Don’t get me wrong: he’s fine as a run stuffer and certainly has the build to become elite at it, but he’s far away from reaching that status in my opinion. Go back and watch the TCU tape before opening any debate on the subject with me. Smith isn’t the immovable object vs the run that I expected, largely because he doesn’t play with enough leverage. His hand usage also isn’t very good right now, which shows up when he fails to quickly shed blocks. Smith’s hand pop also doesn’t match his raw strength and, while I’m more optimistic about Smith as a pass rusher, he isn’t refined in that department. I wouldn’t exactly bang the table for Smith’s on-field motor either.
The Bottom Line: Mazi Smith is…fine? I’m almost mad at myself for hitting the point of him topping Feldman’s column so early in this profile because honestly it feels like that’s the top bullet point on Smith’s resume. There’s projection left to his game, sure, but I really don’t think Mazi Smith is some ball of clay that NFL coaches can mold into a superstar like some other people apparently do. He played quite a bit at Michigan over the past two years; I think this version of him is close to the finished product. Which, again, is fine. I see him as a starting-caliber DT – and capable NT – who can log high snap counts.
Grade: Late Second Round / Early Third Round
Pro Comp: Johnathan Hankins
- Iowa 2022
- Penn State 2022
- Ohio State 2022
- TCU 2022