Continuing with our Green Bay Packers NFL draft prospect profiles, today we highlight Elerson Smith.
Elerson Smith – EDGE – Northern Iowa – 6’7″ 262 lbs
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have never heard of Elerson Smith. In his junior season at Northern Iowa, Smith started to generate attention as he totaled 63 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles and four pass deflections.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t have a senior season as the FCS moved their 2020 fall season to the 2021 spring season. With not having a 2020 season, Smith was going to have to raise his draft stock. As of now, Smith is off to a great start with his performance in Senior Bowl practices and the game.
Elerson Smith – Northern Iowa
This is a grown man play. He has said that he likes rushing from a wide 9. Clearly has add strength to his frame after weighing in at 262.
Should be a riser after this week. pic.twitter.com/EsHk1Erngo
— Zack Patraw (@NFL_Zack) January 27, 2021
Smith has shown flashes of top-edge rusher traits and has earned him a chance to be considered in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
One of the things that intrigue football fans and scouts are the height and athleticism Smith has shown in his football career. Standing over 6-foot-6, Smith is one of the longest edge rushers in the 2021 NFL Draft and he moves gracefully for his size. He has an exceptional get-off, lateral agility and bend.
Elerson Smith (Northern Iowa EDGE 16) with a nice swim move to get to the backfield and make the tackle. pic.twitter.com/Dmncynihbc
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 1, 2021
Throughout his career, Smith has always been able to use his athleticism to help engage himself with opposing tackles. With his length and wingspan, he can compete against any offensive lineman, especially against the larger tackles. Smith’s length allows him will be able to help him create good leverage and to knock opponents off-balance when he uses those long swipes off the edge.
One of biggest risers out of Senior Bowl week is @UNIFootball EDGE Elerson Smith. @ElersonSmith has elite tools (6064v, 262v, 1048 hand, 8300 wing), will blow up his pro-day, and was arguably most impressive physical specimen at weigh-ins. Oh, and he can rush inside & outside. pic.twitter.com/FYuLzCLicA
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 12, 2021
Smith shows good awareness and football IQ when it comes to misdirections and tracking the football in the backfield. He reacts quickly to play fakes and to obstruct passing lanes or pursuing screenplays. Also, he has a strong motor, plays with toughness and you will never see him take a play-off.
Over the past few years, the major concern with Smith has been his weight. However, it is worth mentioning that Smith got to Northern Iowa weighing 190-pounds and has worked his way to 262-pounds heading into the NFL Draft. Also, when watching his junior season film, he was 15-20 pounds lighter than he is now.
A few concerns with his size reflect on his explosiveness and power. Smith often fails to sustain his rush against a stronger lineman. Once that lineman latches on, Smith doesn’t have the strength to lodge loose. The same continues in the run game as Smith struggles to disengage and can be moved easily.
Smith could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft after having an impressive 2019 season. However, not only were their concerns about his size, but the competition level played a hand at the FCS level. In the Senior Bowl, Smith was able to perform well enough to quiet down that concern.
Smith has the potential to be a mid-to-late round steal in the 2021 NFL Draft. At Northern Iowa and at the Senior Bowl, he has shown off his versatility and athleticism. Many teams will be intrigued by Smith as he could work in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. However, the best fit for Smith is going to be that 3-4 scheme due to his frame.
The Packers are a perfect team to have interest in Smith.
If Green Bay were to keep or release Preston Smith, they need depth behind their starting edge rushers. E. Smith would bring solid depth to the Packers and potentially could work into an every-down role within a year or two.
Elerson Smith is a low-risk/high-reward player and many teams will pursuit the former Northern Iowa Panther, but the Packers should have him on the top of their list when they enter the mid-to-late rounds of the NFL Draft.