The Steelers have released 35-year old DE Aaron Smith. Smith played in 4 games for the Steelers last year and he had 8 tackles. Smith played in 160 games in his 13 years with the Steelers and he had 453 tackles, 44 sacks, 40 tackles for a loss, 7 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 1 interception and 20 passes defensed. The Steelers will likely let Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward duke it out in training camp to replace Smith.
The Steelers will be without 35-year old starting DE Aaron Smith for a while due to a mid-foot sprain. Smith has played in all 4 games for the Steelers so far this year and he has 8 tackles. The Steelers will need 24-year old DE Ziggy Hood to step up while Smith is out of action. Hood has played in all 4 games for the Steelers so far this year and he has a whopping 3 tackles. Hood has now played in 36 games in his first three years with the Steelers and he has 31 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 3 passes defensed and 1 tackle for a loss. It’s time for Hood to either step up or the Steelers will have to realize that he’s more of a career backup type.
The Patriots took 23-year old TE Lee Smith out of Marshall with the 159th overall pick (5th round) of the 2011 NFL Draft. Smith is 6’5″, 269 pounds and he runs a 4.9 40. Smith is a old school TE as he is a nasty run blocker and a receiver with good hands who does his best work over the middle of the field. He also likes to lower a shoulder against a defender to try to get a extra couple of yards. Smith played in 12 games (11 starts) for Marshall last year and he caught 38 passes for 358 yards (9.4 avg) with 3 TD grabs. He played in 48 games (27 starts) in his four years with the Thundering Herd and he caught 75 passes for 791 yards (10.5 avg) with 3 TD grabs. The Patriots are overflowing with young TEs with game.
Christopher Price profiles ‘throwback’ TE Lee Smith, taken in the fifth round of the draft.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick referred to him as an “outstanding blocker.” Phil Ratliff, Smith’s position coach at Marshall, added to that on Thursday, calling him a “throwback” who was “far and away the most respected player on the team because of how hard he practices and how hard he plays.”
Ratliff knows something about the sort of player that appeals to the Patriots — while as a player at Marshall, he was a college teammate of eventual New England football legend Troy Brown. “Lee is the kind of player the Patriots draft — a quality person who takes to system and does whatever it takes to succeed,” Ratliff said. “New England is getting another leader — he’s a natural-born leader.”
”A lot of people don’t realize he had a good tight end that played in front of him — this past year was the first year he really had a chance to thrive in the passing game,” Ratliff said. “At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, so a lot of people don’t realize how good he in the passing game. When you think of Lee Smith, you think of a big, pounding blocker. That’s what he is, but he has capability in the vertical passing game. He’s got soft hands and a knack for getting open — and he will get better.”
“All I can tell you is this — people can all the negative things they want about him, but Lee, when he came to us, he was a guy who was a leader,” Ratliff said. “He was a guy who got it. It was unbelievable. When he got into our system, he got structure, and just took off from there. “What happened in the past is in the past. He’s gone beyond that. He’s the most mature guy I have ever coached. He has a family and kids — all that stuff is in the past. It’s so irrelevant to what he is now. It really is.”
“I will tell you one thing — they have a very impressive tight end group,” Ratliff said of New England. “[But] there’s no challenge for him that’s too big. He won’t back down. Those guys are all really good players, but whatever is asked of Lee, he’ll roll with it. He’ll do whatever he needs to do, and take care of business. That’s just how he is.”
Ryan Osborne (TCU Daily Skiff) Patriots 7th-round draft pick Malcolm Williams is packing his bags for the NFL after unlikely football journey.
“I’m living in a dream right now,” said Williams, who was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 219th overall pick in the seventh round of the NFL Draft Saturday afternoon. “It’s the best thing that can happen to me.”
Williams offered a simple, timeless phrase to sum up his journey from airport bag collector to NFL draftee.
“Hard work pays off,” Williams said. “That’s all you can really say.”
With the 159th pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Lee Smith, the tight end out of Marshall.
While this certainly is not a sexy pick, in my opinion, it is a very solid selection. Smith, at 6’6″ and 266 lbs, is not going to wow you with his receiving skills or speed (4.94). While he does have soft hands for the catch, his biggest asset is his blocking. Mike Mayock of NFL Network went so far as to call him the “best blocking tight end in this draft.” That’s pretty impressive.
While he isn’t going to wow you down field or run great routes, his best asset will be as an in-line blocker. He will likely be the third down tight end of the future, and could push Alge Crumpler for a roster spot this season. Some scouts apparently even believe that Smith could eventually make the transition to offensive tackle.
I really like this pick, but the one thing that bothers me is that the Patriots continued to pass up front seven players. At outside linebacker, Jeremy Beal, Chris Carter, and Greg Romeus were all still on the board. A tough call, but if Smith makes the roster, he could be a great blocking tight end for years to come.
Pick Grade: B-
The Dallas Cowboys selected 20-year old OT Tyron Smith out of USC with the 9th overall pick of the first round of the NFL Draft. Smith is a converted TE who is still learning the ropes at OT, but he has a huge upside. Smith is 6’5″, 290 pounds and he’s a really good athlete as he can handle speed rushers. The Cowboys need him to add a little weight to his frame as he sometimes appears to have a hard time maintaining his weight. This was a good pick for the Cowboys as Smith should be a starter for a long time on the O-Line.