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Northern Iowa‘s Elerson Smith: A Spags-ian EDGE with elite athleticism

29 Days of Draftmas continues with a Day 3 prospect who could be a complete pass rusher in the NFL.

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

A very Merry Draftmas to you!

We continue our tradition of profiling an NFL Draft prospect every day in April, leading up to the NFL Draft on April 29th. Every day, you’ll get a prospect profile that includes how they would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.

During his coaching career, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has prioritized defensive ends; most of his stops in the NFL have started by filling out a deep defensive end rotation with players who fit a specific mold. It’s been no different in Kansas City — but Spagnuolo hasn’t yet found the long term-answer across from Frank Clark. So the Chiefs will almost certainly be hoping to address this need in the draft.

Elerson Smith, EDGE

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

6’6” | 252 lbs | Northern Iowa

Minneapolis, MN

Expected draft range: Day 3

Pro Day: 4.78 40-yard dash, 41.5” vertical jump, 127” broad jump, 7.11 three-cone, 4.39 20-yard shuttle, 26 bench press, 33.25” arms

One-sentence bio: Predominantly a 190-pound tight end in high school, he added more than 70 pounds in college to transition to defensive end.

One-sentence scouting report: An explosive athlete off the edge who has the requisite flexibility and speed to be a high-end NFL pass rusher — if he can continue to add density.

One play:

How he fits in Kansas City: Spagnuolo likes big, long and strong defensive ends — and Smith reaches the thresholds he almost always covets. Although he weighed in at 252 pounds at his pro day, Smith was well over 260 pounds at the 2021 Senior Bowl, where he performed well.

Smith is one of the rare players who hits these size and length thresholds — and still provides pass-rushing ability. Right out of his stance, he has the natural explosion to threaten an offensive tackle’s deep corner with speed. He also has the flexibility to dip under contact or lean into a blocker to turn a corner, along with the change-of-direction ability and body control to put his foot in the ground and counter inside or bull rush a blocker. Smith has all the athletic traits to be a complete NFL pass rusher.

The concern for the Chiefs’ staff will be whether he can play all three downs — and whether he’ll be a liability against the run. Throughout his college career, Smith has gotten bigger and better against the run, capping it off by playing some defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl — and playing well. So while he’s not a player who will be ready for a full-time role on Day 1, he would be able to complement the team’s current defensive ends very well as a situational pass rusher as he continues to refine his techniques — and add the strength the NFL requires.

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