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Should Michigan’s Mazi Smith be a Raiders target in NFL Draft 2023?

Mazi Smith’s College Career

Before arriving in Ann Arbor, Smith was already a highly touted prospect, earning four-star status and a top-50 ranking in his recruiting class. He dominated at East Kentwood High School in Michigan, being named a two-time all-state pick. During his redshirt season, Smith made appearances in only two games, failing to record any noteworthy statistics. However, in 2020, he played in five games off the bench, tallying three tackles and one tackle for loss.

  • Class Senior
  • Position DL
  • Height 6-3
  • Weight 337
  • Hometown Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • High School East Kentwood

Smith’s breakout season came in 2021, where he started all 14 games for his team. His strong performance earned him honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference recognition, with 37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and four pass breakups. The following year, Smith continued to impress, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors after starting in all 14 games and recording 48 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Pro Comparison

Smith has a lot in common with Dontari Poe in terms of physicality and athleticism. However, he still needs to work on his consistency if he hopes to achieve Pro Bowl status like Poe did twice in his career. Although Smith is quick and strong enough to control a base block, he struggles to match the initial movement of move blockers, which limits his effectiveness. While he has the potential to fill a lot of space, he needs to become more adept at handling double teams and securing his gap. Although Smith’s draft stock may benefit from his size and testing, he is better suited as a Day 2 talent with plenty of potential, rather than a player who can immediately step in as a starter.

Smith is a big body that I believe can be impactful against both the run and the pass. While I personally think that he’s a better fit for a team that runs four down lineman defense, I think he could also fair well in a 3-4 scheme. Consistency was really the only thing I could see from Smith’s game that kept me from putting a first-round grade on him. Other than that, he has all the skills and traits that a team would be looking for from an NFL-caliber defensive tackle.

Mazi Smith Sentenced To a Year of probation For a Gun Crime. Should NFL Teams Be Worried?

Unfortunately, Smith faced legal issues in October when he was pulled over for speeding and found to be carrying a concealed weapon without a valid permit. He claimed that he was in the process of acquiring the necessary paperwork, but was charged with a misdemeanor and placed on probation.

It wasn’t loaded, I just had the gun up front,” Smith said, according to the report. “I was in such a rush I didn’t put it in the case and lock it up.”

Mazi Smith

His attorney, John Shea, has said Smith was in the process of getting a CPL — a concealed pistol license — at the time of the stop and now has it. So the arrests was more mishap than actual crime.

Mazi Smith Put On A BenchPress Clinic.

Although Smith refrained from participating in any other exercises, his performance on the bench press was exceptional, generating significant interest and attention. He would later perform at Michigan’s Pro Day. Smith, was expected to exhibit his remarkable strength at the combine and he didn’t disappoint.

Mazi Smith lead all defensive linemen with 34 bench-press reps

Mazi Smith Michigan Pro Day

Smith came to his pro day looking impressive 6-foot-3 and weighing 319 pounds, Smith’s exceptional strength and athletic abilities make him a highly sought-after defensive tackle. The predicted to be selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, as per most mock drafts. However, with his remarkable skills, there’s a possibility that he may even move up in the draft rankings.

As per Michigan records, Smith achieved a 29 1/2-inch vertical jump and 8-foot, 11-inch broad jump. After the feat, Smith briefly expressed his contentment saying, “It was good, working hard.”

The Tale of The Tape

  • HEIGHT:  6-3 (41%*)WEIGHT:  323 (94%*)HANDS:  9 3/4 (43%*) ARM:  33 3/4 (58%*) 
  • SPAN:  80 7/8 (64%*) 
  • VERT: 29.5 (P) (31%*)
  • BROAD:  107 (P) (31%*) 
  • BENCH: 34 (C) (94%*

A player with Smith’s skillset should make an impact on both the run and pass game due to his impressive stature. Although I have a personal preference for him to be a part of a team that employs a four-down lineman defense, I also believe he could excel in a 3-4 scheme. The only factor that held me back from giving him a first-round grade was his inconsistency. Nevertheless, Smith possesses all the necessary skills and qualities to be a top-tier defensive tackle in the NFL.

Scouting Report

Smith’s quickness off the snap is impressive, and he has the ability to penetrate gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield. His strength and size make him difficult to move off the line of scrimmage, and he’s a force against the run. He also has the ability to collapse the pocket and generate pressure on the quarterback, making him a valuable asset in both run defense and pass rush situations.

As mentioned earlier, Smith’s technique could use some work. He can sometimes rely too much on his size and strength and needs to develop more refined moves to consistently beat blockers. He also needs to work on his hand usage and leverage to better control his opponent.

Should the Raiders be all in on Mazi Smith?

The answer is a resounding Yes! Mazi Smith is a compelling prospect with tremendous potential. With some coaching and refinement, he could become a dominant force at the next level. His legal issue may cause some teams to shy away from him, but his physical abilities and potential should still make him a high priority for a team lacking an interior presence such as the Las Vegas Raiders. Dave Ziegler should have a player of smith’s caliber high on his draft board. Smith is the kind of high-ceiling talent that would thrive next to Maxx Crosby. For that reason, I feel the Raiders must draft smith if given the chance

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Top Beatz

    April 8, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    Mazi reminds me of a Darius Philon type of DT that I believe will develop into a solid DT in the NFL. He may not reach the potential of dominating offensive lines but in year 2 or 3 could potentially become a top 15 DT which would be a significant improvement for the Raiders overall.

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