OT Marvel Smith in town: Implications

As is being reported all over the place, Steelers free agent OT Marvel Smith is scheduled to come to town today for a visit.  Smith will be 31 in August, but more importantly, has had a disc injury in his back that has shelved for 15 games the past two seasons.  He had lower back surgery in December 2007, and ended up on IR for a sizable chunk of last season.  Rotoworld even went so far as to say that more than likely Smith has failed several physicals in free agent visits this offseason.

Smith was a Pro Bowler in 2005, so he definitely brings some talent to the table.  Of course, Jonas Jennings did too but he was more fragile than any antique.  I'm working under the assumption that the physical won't go so well tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's a scouting report on the big fella:

Smith can recover pretty well if initially beaten, but isn't extremely fluid. He has heavy hands, shoots them with power and uncoils very quickly. He has excellent size and enough strength to move bigger defensive ends off the ball.
. . .
He picks up blitzes cleanly and has a very good understanding of the game and his position. Smith packs a powerful punch and places it well. He is still a plus athlete as offensive tackles go and can get out to the second level or pull effectively.
. . .
He is a good run blocker, but not overly explosive and will not simply blow people off the ball. High end speed rushers give him trouble, because his quickness out of his stance and overall agility is just average for a left tackle.

Smith was playing left tackle for the Steelers but started his career as a right tackle.  If the 49ers could get a healthy version of Smith they'd be in a much more flexible position with the #10 pick.  They could go in just about any direction with the pick, up to and including trades. 

At the same time, if Smith manages to pass his physical, I think you still draft a young right tackle.  Maybe not with the 10th pick, but I think one of your higher picks could be used for depth there.  The offensive line has had numerous injury issues the last few years, so clearly it would not be a poor choice.  In reality, given the age and injury issues, I don't know how much this really changes your draft strategy.

I wouldn't expect them to give Smith a huge deal.  Back when they opened up the safe for Jennings, he was 27.  I'd think we'd find out pretty quickly how the physical goes.  On the one hand, if Smith passes the physical, I think you try and lock him up real quick.  On the other hand, if he does in fact pass the physical, you have to wonder what happened with the other teams.

I think the best way to describe my opinion of this right now would be "wary."  Of course, given Smith's recent injury history, "pessimistic" might be a better word.

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