East-West Prospect Profile: Branden SmithJanuary 22nd, 2013
Joe spoke with five prospects last week at the East-West Shrine practices and game that could be targets of the Bucs, three cornerbacks, one safety and one linebacker. The Bucs have a pattern for prospects: multiple years as a starter, played for a big-time program or conference, and served as a team captain. The Bucs rarely deviate from this pattern. Some have met all three qualifications for a Bucs draftee; some have not.
Name: Branden Smith
Size: 5-11, 1753
Started: Three years
Have Bucs representatives spoken to him? No.
Background: In Joe’s eyes, Branden Smith may be one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the draft. Yes, he got busted with the hippie lettuce once in college, but the young man swore to Joe that is a mistake he has learned from and he doesn’t try to hide the fact he got pinched. Ashamed, but honest. Smith finished with 25 tackles this season on one of the best defensive teams in the nation, 18 of those tackles were solo. He has four interceptions on the college ranks, and did run the ball a few times on offense. The thing that intrigues Joe about Smith is that in the past, he has been assigned to cover Julio Jones and virtually every day in practice as a sophomore, had to guard A.J. Green not to mention had to go against one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in college football each day in practice, Aaron Murray. So before Smith has been drafted or signed, he already knows what it is like to defend against NFL-level talent.
Sales pitch to Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik: “I have speed, I have size, I can make play son the ball and the Bucs need cornerbacks. I’m the guy. I can do everything, offense, defense, special teams, anything to help the team win. I can play nickel, I can definitely play corner. When you are a corner, you our out on an island and all through high school and college, I have been on that island. I can handle the pressure.”
Profile: Smith isn’t the greatest against the run, which is a strike for him in Greg Schiano’s mindset. He wasn’t a captain for the Bulldogs, which is a strike in Dominik’s eyes. The guy is quick though and given how he has played against two of the NFL’s top receivers, and played against one of college football’s top quarterbacks, and has been solid in the nation’s top football conference, perhaps it is wise to take a flyer on the guy since the Bucs are so desperate for depth at cornerback.
“Playing in the SEC? It has helped me a lot. It’s one of the best conferences in college football. I am playing against the best every day. You have to bring you’re A-game every day in practice. It has helped me a whole lot. It helped me because I was playing against big receivers, small receivers, fast receivers. So, I have played against he best.
Aaron Murray? Going against him, he is smooth. There are a lot of good quarterback in the SEC but going against Aaron every day, that has helped me a lot. He is a good quarterback. He can make the big throws and the shorts throws. He has helped me a lot.”
Below is an example of Smith’s speed while playing wide receiver. In a plus for the Bucs, he already has the Benn’d Around down pat.