2021 NFL draft prospects: Tennessee OG Trey Smith

Eric Edholm
·4 min read
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Tennessee OG Trey Smith

6-foot-5, 331 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.83 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Four-year starter with size, toughness and character — plus major medical concerns

Games watched: South Carolina (2019), Missouri (2019), Alabama (2020), Auburn (2020), Florida (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 49 nationally), Smith started immediately for the Vols in 2017. That season he started eight games at right guard and four at left tackle and was named second-team all-SEC and freshman All-America honors. Following the season, Smith was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and kept out of offseason workouts while on blood thinners. Although he returned in the fall of 2018 to start seven games at left tackle, Smith was required to stop for fear that his lungs were scarred from the clots.

He came back in 2019 to earn first-team all-SEC at left guard, starting 13 games, and opted to return to school for his senior season. Smith started all 11 games at left guard for the Vols and was named the Jason Witten Award winner (given for leadership on the field and community service off it) and the Fritz Pollard Trophy (given for extraordinary courage and community values). He attended the 2021 Senior Bowl.

Upside: Elite finisher. Bullies opponents through the whistle. Loves bouncing guys out of the club. Aggressive mentality. Tough, big and nasty.

Size is ideal for a road-grading guard. Despite losing weight more than once during his UT career, he has kept a steady playing weight. Huge, thick, well-developed upper body. Requisite arm length (33 3/4 inches), huge hands (10 inches) and massive wingspan (83 1/8 inches).

Base strength is excellent — very difficult to move this man. Incredible pop at the point of attack — shocks some defenders off the snap. Uses his hands to control and steer opponents where he desires.

Undersold athletic traits. Good mobility and agility. Can get out on the move and pull to lead the run game. Hits moving targets pretty well in space.

Effective in pass protection. Allowed only one sack allowed over his final two seasons. Started games at three different positions. Could play tackle or guard in the NFL and will be a valuable piece to have when moving parts are required. Four-year starter despite offseasons interrupted by health concerns.

Hard worker and highly respected player and person. Mental toughness might even surpass physical toughness. Has overcome adversity at almost every step of his life. Considered a natural-born leader and a pro-ready competitor.

Looked like a future pro the minute he took the field as a true freshman. Battle-tested in the weekly testing ground of the SEC. Had some really good reps against 2020 first-rounder Javon Kinlaw in their 2019 meeting.

Downside: One of the bigger health question marks in the entire 2021 draft class. Medical evaluation will be crucial for his final grades and avoid being off teams’ boards — can’t play football on anticoagulants.

Technique is unrefined despite four years of experience. Inconsistencies still show up with regularity — has missed critical practice time and offseason development because of medical issues. Can be overly aggressive and lose balance. Could get out of his stance cleaner at times — takes too big a first step and loses the position battle. Can stand to take better angles of departure.

Will overextend and lunge in pass protection. Loses leverage battles he should win. Has worked on lowering pad level over time, but it crops up. Fatigue appears to cause technique issues later in games and later in the season.

Still limited athletically — not going to win many foot races to the edge. Heavy feet. Short-side puller only. Short-area burst is only so-so. More of a plodder. Recovery quickness is lacking.

Power player but doesn’t always displace opponents effectively. Mistimes punches and resorts to jabs. Will slip off blocks and fail to sustain and drive. Can lose reps trying to bury opponents. Lot of stalemates and fewer dominant reps in 2020 tape — performance seemed to flatline or even turn for the worse.

Best-suited destination: Evaluation feels like a boom-or-bust prospect. He should go to a team where they can plan on him not starting immediately but be pleasantly surprised if he can. After all, Smith has the size, talent and experience to start right away in a power-blocking system — if the medical evaluations are clean.

Did you know: Smith lost his mother, Dorsetta, to congestive heart failure when he was in high school. It didn’t stop his drive and desire, as he was named Mr. Football twice as a prep and named to several All-America teams prior to college.

Player comp: A bigger Larry Warford.

Expected draft range: Rounds 3-6 (depending on medical reports)