In his latest mock draft for ESPN Todd McShay predicts that Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith will be drafted with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The 6’2″ 213-pound Smith had 90 tackles and a forced fumble for the Fighting Irish in 2011.
The Ball Says: Smith had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he’s a versatile player with the strength to hold up well against the run and the speed to carry his weight in coverage, making him capable of playing either the strong or free safety positions. Smith can count among his admirers none other than NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who glowed about him prior to February’s combine.
“I think he is one of the best safeties in the country and I thought he had a great year this year,” said Mayock. “He didn’t have seven interceptions like he did the year before, but keep in mind I think three of them came against [Miami]. This year he made a bunch of plays on the ball, he tackled extremely well. He is the leader of the secondary. He is one of the smartest kids I think I’ve met as far as understanding the game of football and I think he’ll be surprisingly athletic when they test him at the combine, so I’d be really surprised if he didn’t go in the first two rounds.”
So far as Smith’s IDP value is concerned it, as is the case with most defensive backs, is as dependent on his situation as a rookie as it is his not inconsiderable talents. In a favorable landing spot, with an early chance at significant playing time (preferably at strong safety) Smith could potentially merit consideration as an upside IDP DB3, while a less-than-ideal destination would likely drop Smith into DB4 territory and make him only worth a look in deeper leagues. Smith’s fantasy value should be a bit more stable in dynasty IDP leagues, where he will probably be the second defensive back taken in rookie drafts behind safety Mark Barron of Alabama.