2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Mazi Smith

  • Mazi Smith, 6-3/326

  • Defensive Tackle

  • Michigan

  • Mazi Smith Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Tough run-stuffing nose tackle
  • Good lateral anchor
  • Hard to move at the point of attack
  • Holds his gap
  • Absorbs double teams
  • Very tough; plays hard
  • Disruptive run defender
  • Strong hands
  • Uses hands and feet at same time
  • Can get a push working upfield

  • Weaknesses:
  • Not an interior pass rusher
  • Lacks quickness
  • Lacks athleticism
  • Doesn’t have a role in the sub package
  • Two-down defender, at most

  • Summary: While Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo got all the attention on the Michigan defense in 2021, Smith was a good defender in his own right. He helped plug up interior rushing lanes and was tough to move at the point of attack. In 2021, Smith recorded 37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and four passes batted. As a senior, Smith racked up 49 tackles and one sack.

    In the ground game, Smith is a tough defender who is very stout at the point of attack. When runs come downhill at him, he is able to anchor and hold his ground. He also shows the strength to shed and tackle. Smith pushes his way into the backfield to disrupt runs and resets the line of scrimmage. His lateral anchor was advanced for a college player, making him tough to move at the point of attack. Smith possesses a high level of strength that helps him take on double-team bump blocks and hold his ground when getting hit from the side. He is a very good run defender entering the NFL.

    As a pass rusher, Smith has some ability to get a push into the backfield with his power, but after gaining some ground upfield, Smith struggles to finish the play by getting to the quarterback. He is limited from speed and athleticism perspectives to be a dangerous pass rusher in the NFL. As a pro, he probably will be rotated out of the game in the majority of sub package plays. If Smith had more pass-rush ability, he would be a definite first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Smith should fit any defense at the next level. He would be a great fit as a nose tackle or five-technique in a 3-4. In a 4-3, he could play nose tackle. Smith could be a second- or third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but he may have an outside shot of sneaking into the bottom of Round 1.

    Player Comparison: Dontari Poe. Team sources said Poe was a comparison they saw for Smith, which makes sense. Both are heavy nose tackles who are tough against the run but don’t offer much interior pass rush.


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