This past Friday, SI.com put together a short feature on 49ers first round draft pick Aldon Smith. There's nothing earth shattering in the feature but it's nice to get a few comments from Smith. Although he has appeared at some of the San Jose State workouts and was recently at the NFLPA rookie symposium, we haven't heard much in the way of comments from the soon to be outside linebacker.
In the article, Smith indicated that he thinks the technique required to move to the outside linebacker role is a simple transition from down to up. I don't know if it's quite that simple, but I have to say I do like the confidence from Smith. He's a monster of a man who measured in at 6'4, 263 pounds at the NFL combine. For comparison's sake, Manny Lawson is currently 6'5, 240, which is just about what he came in at during the 2006 NFL Combine. Can a man of that size become an effective pass rusher from the outside linebacker position, or will he need to drop some weight? He's got the size to battle offensive linemen and run over running backs, but does he have the speed?
What I found the most interesting of all his comments was the discussion of his broken leg that cost him three games his senior season:
Although the leg injury cast doubts about Smith's health, that's not how he sees it. He doesn't think many people realize his full potential, and the move to outside linebacker will most likely make past criticism of Smith's too-high positioning in a three-point stance irrelevant.
"The sky's the limit for me, as long as I keep working hard," Smith said. "I just have to take advantage of the resources around me."
Potential is great and all, but as always it comes down to production. It's difficult to make many assessments at this point because we don't know what will happen with Manny Lawson in free agency. If he walks, that will drastically increase the amount of playing time Smith sees as a rookie.
However much playing time he earns, there is also the issue of the lockout impeding his development. Confidence and potential are great but considering he hasn't seen a playbook yet, it will be an interesting rookie season for Smith. For now he just needs to keep working out and staying in shape and I suppose we just have to hope for the best this fall.