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Smith is the Real Deal!

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; I posted the whole article so everyone would'nt have to log in: Detillier says Smith may be better than Rickey Jackson, Mr. Jackson if your nasty: Saints’ first-rounder Smith is the real deal Mike Detillier Preseason football is mostly an ...

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Old 08-30-2004, 08:47 PM   #1
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Smith is the Real Deal!

I posted the whole article so everyone would'nt have to log in: Detillier says Smith may be better than Rickey Jackson, Mr. Jackson if your nasty:

Saints’ first-rounder Smith is the real deal

Mike Detillier

Preseason football is mostly an evaluation period for coaches. But one thing has quickly become obvious: the New Orleans Saints’ first-round draft choice Will Smith is the real deal.

While there are other areas of concern for the Saints -- mostly on the defensive side of the ball, at linebacker and in the secondary, and the uncertainty at quarterback due Brooks’ injured thigh -- the potential of Smith, a defensive end and linebacker, has shown through like a lightning bolt from the heavens.

I have watched Saints football from the outset and seen players like Dave Rowe, Pat Swilling, Joe Johnson, Wayne Martin, Tommy Myers, Derland Moore, Jim Wilks and Darren Howard play early in their careers. But with the exception of former Saints standout outside linebacker Rickey Jackson, I can’t remember a defensive player that has flashed as much ability on the field in pre-season as Smith has as a rookie.

I scouted Smith for three seasons at Ohio State and while I thought highly of his football skills, he has exceeded the expectations I had of him when the Saints selected him in April. While the Saints may have had their eyes more logged in on Miami (Fla.) linebackers Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams, both players which were selected ahead of the Saints’ pick, the team was very smart not to pass on Smith, even with a motherload of talent along on the defensive line.

Due to other team needs, Smith, who I rated as the 14th best player in the draft, lasted until the 18th pick in the first round.

The selection of Smith looks like one that will not just yield a good player, but a special NFL performer.

In three preseason games Smith has played like a good seasoned veteran. Yes, he will still make some mental mistakes, but he displays great quickness and initial explosiveness as a defensive end. The one element Smith has that could well put him in an elite category as a pass rusher is his closing speed. For a rookie, Smith has a good assortment of pass-rush moves, and once he turns the corner it seems like in a flash the former 2003 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is in the quarterback’s face.

The last time I remember a Saints player with that much closing speed to the quarterback was All-Pro outside linebacker Pat Swilling in the early to mid 1990s.

Smith has been so impressive that the coaching staff has installed a series of defensive plays that will have the team in a 3-4 defensive setup, and he will be the designated pass rusher from the outside. In just a glimpse of what could be a very productive pro career, Smith has shown outstanding explosive qualities as a pass rusher at either defensive end or at outside linebacker.

A few rookie defensive ends have made their mark exclusively as pass rushers, but what makes Smith’s play even more eye-catching is that he also plays the run pretty well. For a player around 275 pounds, Smith displays good upper-body strength, and he holds up well at the point of attack on running plays.

But even more impressive than Smith’s physical skills is his mature nature and his dedication to be the very best he can be. I can say Smith, along with middle linebacker Courtney Watson, shows the type of desire and mental makeup you covet in an NFL player.

"Will has the ability to be a special player," Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said. "He is still a rookie and you have to always remember that part of the equation, but he has the physical skills and the desire to be an impact player as a rookie and you really have a tough time saying that about just about any rookie that comes into the league. Our job as a staff is to find a way to get him out on the field with Darren Howard and Charles Grant, two other really good players, and let them create negative plays for the other team. It’s just a small part of our playbook, but putting in the 3-4 alignment as an outside linebacker will give him an opportunity to display his physical gifts.

"What has impressed me also is his ability to pick up what we throw at him and digest what his assignments are. When you get a player like Will Smith, it’s up to the coaching staff to put him in situations to create bad plays for the other squad."

I still have a host of concerns about the 2004 version of the New Orleans Saints, but I can truthfully say that in my opinion, barring injury, the team may have landed the best first-year defensive player to wear a black and gold uniform since Rickey Jackson. Believe me, Smith looks that good.
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Old 08-31-2004, 06:35 AM   #2
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Smith is the Real Deal!

Dang, and we coulda had Derrick Strait or Chris Gamble.
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Old 08-31-2004, 03:46 PM   #3
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Smith is the Real Deal!

Defensive Rookie of the Year sure would have a nice ring to it! You just never know. This guy may have the all the tools.
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Old 08-31-2004, 04:00 PM   #4
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Smith is the Real Deal!

I agree with you MV and glad we did\'nt get either of those players Danno. This guy is going to be a horse for many years to come and could start on alot of teams as a DE, hell if Howard does\'nt look out his position could be taken by year\'s end.
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Old 08-31-2004, 04:06 PM   #5
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Smith is the Real Deal!

Wow that\'s high praise. I really trust Detillier. We might have really landed a special player. I also agree with Mike that this team has a host of other obstacles that will make it really hard to get to the playoffs. I\'m looking forward to see what Smith looks like at game time. I also like the idea of Vick looking over his shoulder on passing plays.
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