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Jason Smith: A Work In Progress

Hat Tip to Turf Show Times for pointing me in the direction of this article.

Doug Farrar of the incomparable Football Outsiders studied Jason Smith on every play in his first preseason start against the Atlanta Falcons.  His impression?  Smith struggled with some of the mental aspects of the game, but showed some flashes of brilliance.  Here’s some of the good:

St. Louis came out in a three-tight end set, with Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema outside Smith on the right. All three tight ends released downfield at the snap, and Smith immediately took a step outside to engage Davis, who was rolling up off the edge. Smith set his feet quickly and rode Davis out of the pocket in textbook fashion. There aren’t many young tackles in the league who have that nice “fanning” ability (I compare it to the arc of an opening door). Even a monster like Ryan Clady tends to take pass rushers more head-on. Smith reminds me more of Joe Thomas in this regard.

And the good news about what Smith has to work on?  It’s all teachable and learnable provided Smith has the work ethic to get the work done.  All indications point to Jason having the drive to make himself into an All-Pro left tackle.  However, he may not be ready right away as Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout says:

I do not know of any top-tier tackle over the last ten years drafted out of a two-point offense, so comparisons are tough. Considering the adjustment he’s making in terms of stance, left to right tackle and, of course, the jump in size and athleticism of the pros, I’m not at all surprised he’s struggling. I spoke with Jason several times last year and I believe he has the work ethic to take advantage of his skills and ultimately be a standout. At this time, however, it appears that it may take at least a season or two for him to really acclimate.

Two seasons is a long learning curve for the Rams and their fans, but Jason Smith seems to already be trending up, so maybe he’ll be a finished product in 1 year or less rather than 2 years or longer.

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