Will Brandon Smith Be the Next Great NFL Linebacker?

From Jack Ham in the late 1960s to Shane Conlan in the ‘80s to Micah Parsons more recently, Penn State has had its share of big-name linebackers over the years. Will Brandon Smith be the next player out of “Linebacker U” to find success in the NFL? Maybe, but he’s more of a question mark than those other guys.

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The 6-3 ½, 250-pound Smith played three seasons in Happy Valley and was named an “All Big Ten” linebacker in two of those years, showing off plenty of athleticism.

According to NFL Draft Bible, Smith – who just turned 21 earlier this month – “closes downhill at a very high speed and is a big hitter when the opportunity presents itself. He also has flashed when taking on blockers thanks to his length, leverage, and strength.”

But there are some concerns, too, which is why the scouting report calls Smith a “work-in-progress.” Most notably, the Louisa, Virginia, native sometimes struggled with his tackling: “He rarely breaks down as he approaches the ball carrier. Further, he fails to wrap up and does not have stellar grip strength.”

The33rdTeam.com writes that Smith has great physical tools but will have to “drastically improve his consistency and strength at the point of attack.”

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The folks at SBNation agree that Smith needs to be more consistent and more disciplined, but also say Smith has “an old-school linebacker build with new-age athleticism” at the position … and has “sky-high potential.”

Most draft-watchers see Brandon Smith as a high-level backup initially in the NFL but with the potential to become a starter. He will likely be a 3rd-round pick.

Jim “Chet” Chesko

Jim “Chet” Chesko has co-hosted Philly Pressbox Radio (part of Edge of Philly Sports) since 2014. Chet is a proud alum of Penn State and has worked in radio and related fields for four decades (his current “real job” is anchoring business news reports on Compass Media Networks). He’s a big fan of movies, rock’n’roll, craft beer, and, of course, Philly sports!