By Adam Aniba
Draft Prospect Spotlight; D'Ante Smith
Washington's blindside hasn't recovered since the loss of Trent Williams. This is new territory for The WFT after having dominant LT's decade after decade. With Chris Samuels and Williams being the most recent blue chip LT's at the position, there's a real possibility that Ron Rivera could select a tackle at #19. Unfortunately, odds are that the draft's Tier-1 tackles will likely be off the board when Washington's first selection comes around, so the value might not be there.
In this edition of Draft Prospect Spotlight we take a look at a projected Day 3 LT, East Carolina OT D'Ante Smith.
4th Rd Grade | OT/G | East Carolina Height: 6'5" Weight: 305 lbs Wingspan: 85" Arm length: 35" Hand size: 9.78"
East Carolina University's LT D'Ante Smith grew up in Augusta, GA and attended Grovetown HS during his sophomore year (transferred from Laney HS) gaining notoriety as one of the most athletic o-lineman in the state and ranked in the top 100 in the nation. Smith's experience as a HS wrestler in the heavyweight division, would translate to the field and was rarely out-muscled or out-leveraged on the mat.
Smith received multiple D1 offers before ultimately joining the East Carolina program in 2016. Unfortunately for Smith, he went down with an injury in his first game vs. Western Carolina, missing the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The ECU lineman returned in 2017 playing in 7 games with 5 starts (4 at LT and 1 at Guard). Over the next two seasons, Smith was named team captain as well as earned All-American Athletic Conference first team honors in back-to-back seasons.
Smith displayed his versatility to play guard when called upon, but showed, during the Senior Bowl practices, that he has the ceiling to be an NFL LT. The knock on Smith is that he's on the ground too often when playing LT and balance is an issue. Some of these negatives have prompted many evaluators to project Smith as a guard on the next level. He shined as an IOL, during the Senior Bowl when asked to take a few reps inside.
With 26 starts in 33 career games, Smith has the experience and athletic ability to be a starting LT on the next level. In most cases, tackles are asked to slide to guard on the next level based on their limited wingspan/arm length. At 85 inches, Smith has no such issue. Although he needs work and NFL level coaching in the run game, his ability in pass pro cannot be ignored.
Fit in Washington
With the recent trade for Dolphins OT/G Ereck Flowers, HC Ron Rivera has shown that this o-line is still a work in progress. Continuing to target high ceiling players with versatility has become a staple for Rivera's roster building strategy. Washington could lose Brandon Scherff in 2022 after the second consecutive franchise tag ($18 mil for '21) and the Right Guard's camp is reportedly unwilling to work out a LTD. A projected Day 3 prospect, like D'Ante Smith, fits perfectly into what OC Scott Turner is looking to do in the quick passing game. New addition Ryan Fitzpatrick will be asked to run a lot of up-tempo, so a moving pocket will be imperative. Selecting Smith (if available) with pick #124 in the 4th round will go a long way for this reclamation project, since the departure of Trent Williams.
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