DE Dawuane Smoot, Illinois

6’3” – 255 lbs. – 4.75e

Came off the bench as a freshman, then worked into the rotation as a sophomore before taking over a starting role the following year. Team captain. Plays left end almost exclusively; only took a few snaps from the other side of the field. Looks a bit lanky relative to his listed size/bulk, with long limbs; has been listed at declining weights over the past three years. Explosive off the line of scrimmage, with above-average flexibility; more of a speed rusher who gets upfield and tries to bend back to the passer. Doesn’t always convert speed to power successfully, but flashes the ability to create some push because of his leg drive. Possesses very quick hands to prevent blockers from placing their hands on him; however, struggles to free himself when he’s successfully engaged. Looked very disruptive as a junior, but didn’t seem quite as dynamic in his senior year. Would probably benefit from varying his pass-rushing approach and working moves into his game more frequently. Has the athleticism and motor to pursue plays to the sidelines in pursuit. Instincts versus the run are raw; needs to improve his overall play recognition and contain the corner much more consistently, getting sucked in too frequently by misdirection or because he committed too quickly. Too focused on rushing the passer, providing some big holes for opposing ballcarriers to rush through. More effective as a one-gap, attacking defender; probably lacks the patience and anchor to play in a two-gap role. In short yardage situations, can be driven off the line of scrimmage by more powerful offensive tackles. Capable of creating congestion inside, but it isn’t one of the focal points of his game. More likely to create an obstruction with his body than to maintain awareness of the ball and bring down runners while engaged. Will probably also get some looks as a rush linebacker prospect given his movement skills and his adequate frame for that type of role. Has a lot of the tools teams look for in a pass rusher (explosiveness, suddenness, quick hands, flexibility), but wasn’t able to generate consistent pressure at the college level and will not be able to coast on his natural quickness and explosiveness as easily at the next level. Limitations as a run defender might limit him to more of a situational pass-rushing role, whether as an end or outside linebacker. Might be best if given a wide alignment and allowed to get upfield.

Games watched: Iowa (’15), Nebraska (’15), Michigan (’16)

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