Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Harrison Smith is a strong safety all the way. He is listed as a free safety in most rankings, and the N.F.L. safety positions are becoming more interchangeable, but Smith is not a turn-and-run, play-the-deep-middle type of safety. He thrives in the box and when he is near the line of scrimmage. He i’s a good blitzer, as you can see at the 39-second mark.
Smith plays almost as a small linebacker, reading plays and flying up to make hits. When he is allowed to roam near the line, Smith can be a really good player. He can cover running backs and some tight ends effectively, and he can even line up in the slot at times. Smith excels in underneath zone coverage. He will not be able to consistently play man against receivers.
Some have labeled Smith as a ballhawk, but I do not see that. When asked to play the deep middle, Smith looks stiff. His instincts are not bad and he reads plays well, but he really is not a rangy defender. His stiffness shows up as a tackler in space (see the 1:42 mark). In traffic, however, Smith displays excellent wrap-up tackling technique.
I don’t think Smith has very good hips, and he’s not sudden out of his breaks. He can’t cover slot receivers, and I’m not sure he would succeed in the deep half. I would be disappointed if the Cowboys grabbed Smith if he’s available in the second round.