2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Illinois OLB Dawuane Smoot

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Dawuane Smoot/OLB Illinois – 6’3/1 264

The Good

– Looks the part, fills out frame and has excellent length (33 1/4 inch arms)
– Uses hands really well, advanced in that area compared to most others, and does well to stay clean
– Not a great athlete but bends the edge well and shows ability to dip/rip and flatten the edge
– Strong at the POA against the run on the edge and does well to keep vision on the football, shows the ability to work off blocks
– Overall, gap sound and experience one and two-gapping
– Smart pass rusher, good IQ, and ability to counter the tackle’s set
– Has experience on both end spots and kicked inside on 3rd downs
– High effort player
– Statistically productive though not overwhelming career

The Bad

– Average athlete and get off as a pass rusher
– Tested average to below average (4.77 40, 1.68 ten split, 29.5 vert and 9’9” broad)
– Lacks functional strength as an interior rusher, initial punch is only average
– Inconsistent pass rusher who loses too many battles to tight ends and running backs when he should be more dominant
– Was not asked to drop into coverage often and looked stiff when he did so
– Wasn’t as productive as a senior as he was a junior


– Two year starter, 24 in total
– Career: 38.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 5 FFs
– 2016: 15 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 FF (2015: 15 TFL, 8 sacks, 3 FF)
– Had 91 tackles, 14 sacks, 5 FFs as senior in high school, team defensive MVP as junior and senior
– Played football and ran track (400m hurdles, shot put, discus) in HS

Tape Breakdown

Smoot is one of the final outside linebackers we’re circling to. Someone I’ve been meaning to write about, especially after a solid Senior Bowl week that I think helped open eyes. And at the time, reported the team had interest in Smoot.

His best quality is the ability to get skinny and bend the edge. He really convinced me of that each practice at the Senior Bowl. By the end of his day, his shoulder pads would be ripped to shreds from tackles clawing at him all day long. But he showed it in-game too.

Similar to Derek Rivers, he has an advanced knowledge and use of his hands, working hard to stay clean. They need to be more active and consistent but when he has a plan, he’s effective. Smart pass rusher who overcomes his physical limitations as an average athlete. LDE here.

But he did disappear in moments he should’ve dominated. His game against Michigan was particularly disappointing, getting stonewalled by running backs and tight ends far too often. I know it’s third and short but watch Jake Butt drive Smoot into the ground.

Smoot isn’t a flashy pass rusher and I don’t think he’ll ever be a dominant guy. Just not a good enough athlete to make those odds look good. But he’s certainly solid and a pick that’s as hard to hate as it is to love.

Projection: Early Day Three

Games Watched: at Nebraska, at Michigan, at Northwestern, Senior Bowl

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea TankersleyRaekwon McMillanJosh Harvey-ClemonsChristian McCaffreyChris Carson
Montravius AdamsAaron JonesMack HollinsDeatrich Wise JrAdoree’ Jackson
JuJu Smith-SchusterJosh JonesDavon GodchauxLorenzo JeromeQuincy Wilson
Stevie Tu’ikolovatuMike WilliamsAhkello WitherspoonDede WestbrookTedric Thompson
Marcus MayeJoe MixonTaywan TaylorTyson FernandezJarrad Davis
Ishmael ZamoraDaeshon HallCJ BeathardKendell BeckwithJalen Reeves-Maybin
Rasul DouglasMarcus WilliamsDevonte FieldsJustin EvansKenny Golladay
Marquez WhiteChad WilliamsCurtis SamuelD.J. JonesSeth Russell
Amara DarbohNoah BrownMalik HookerCarroll PhillipsIsaiah Ford
Marlon HumphreyT.J. LoganJalen MyrickChad HansenEddie Jackson
Budda BakerJahad ThomasFabian MoreauMatt MilanoTashawn Bower
Jason CroomJamal AgnewHoward WilsonShaquill GriffinKeionta Davis
Michael RobertsTeez TaborShock LinwoodShelton GibsonChanning Stribling
Montae NicholsonNajee MurrayJoseph YearbyJustin Davis

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Brian Tollini

    I really like this guy in the 4th round and much more than his teammate Phillips. I agree he will probably never be a double-digit sack guy, but at worst he would be very solid depth, at best, a solid starter that could give you 6-8 sacks a year.

  • stan

    He was a much better player at a 270 pound defensive end as a junior than he was as a 255 pounder as a senior. The new coaching staff at Illinois made him lighten up in order to play their new scheme and he didn’t do nearly as well. He’d be best off bulking up to 280-285 and playing weakside end in a 4-3. I really don’t see him being able to do even minimal pass coverage in the Steelers’ 3-4.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’d be 100% on board with Smoot on day 3.

  • Steelers12

    i was high on him but now i favor Rivers and Mathis over him

  • Mark DeSevo

    I want Mathis in the 4th.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    For me he is one of the best pass rushers in this draft but he is purely that….a pass rush specialist. I really like him and feel he would be a great 2nd edge rusher for us in this draft.

  • Applebite

    Looks to have a moderate body fat percentage….needs to exchange that fat with muscle, and things will improve for him.