Just as it was ahead of the 2022 season, the 2023 NFL Draft safety class remains wide open. Could Georgia S Christopher Smith take home the top positional spot with his scouting report? Let’s discuss.
Christopher Smith NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 5’11”, 194 pounds
Talking about the historic 2021 Georgia Bulldogs defense is almost like singing “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.” You know Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, and Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean. Jalen Carter and Lewis Cine, and Kelee Ringo and Channing Tindall. But do you recall one of the best prospects of all?
It doesn’t rhyme quite like the original, but the premise holds. The 2021 Georgia defense was so exciting and so talent-dense that sometimes a steady, reliable player like Smith goes overlooked. Quietly, Smith could be one of the best prospects to come out of this group.
Smith’s background and production both provide reason for optimism from an evaluative perspective. Smith was a high school cornerback and a four-star recruit. He spent his first two seasons at Georgia as a quality special teamer and a rotational defender before starting the last five games of the 2020 season.
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Among the absurd talent base of the 2021 defense, Smith became a full-time starter and flourished alongside Cine and Derion Kendrick. He put up three interceptions, a pick-six, and four deflections in 2021. And in 2022, he matched that interception total while also adding five deflections, 57 tackles, and a sack.
Smith’s profile has a little bit of everything. He was a strong kick coverage player early on, but his future rests beyond special teams. At the Senior Bowl and in final evaluations, teams will be more focused on Smith’s defensive ability. That’s where he can be a truly high-level player at the next level.
Christopher Smith Scouting Report
- Terrific processor with extremely quick reaction speed and excellent zone awareness.
- Energetic athlete with great foot speed on his backpedal and urgent strides.
- Has good burst coming downhill in support and flashes great long-strider explosiveness.
- Plays space well and can key in on QB’s eyes while maintaining awareness of breaks.
- Has good off-man technique and spatial awareness when mirroring WRs at stems.
- Fluid mover who plays low in his stance and transitions with ease.
- Has the versatility to play in space and cover ground, or man up receivers from the slot.
- Able playmaker who can trigger early on passes and generate turnovers.
- Incredibly physical and proactive in contact situations, and isn’t scared to initiate.
- Strong form tackler who takes good angles and can square up with fast feet.
Areas for Improvement
- Around average listed size, and may be smaller and lighter than listed.
- Transitions can be a bit smoother when shifting out of backpedal at times.
- Naturally lacks elite play strength as a tackler and doesn’t always stall runners.
- Average size limits disruption radius against larger receivers.
- Explosiveness, while solid, isn’t quite quantifiably elite.
- Lighter frame with physical style could cause projected durability questions to arise.
Georgia S Christopher Smith Current Draft Projection
Smith isn’t a flashy prospect. Even his name is boring. But if good football players get you excited, then you’ll be very, very high on Smith. While he doesn’t have the elite surface-level traits of other safety prospects, he grades as a worthy fringe Round 1 prospect and a priority Day 2 player if he makes it past the first round.
Smith is one of the top safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft. At a position where lone weaknesses can be debilitating, Smith has no glaring flaws. He’s average-sized and not quite an elite athlete with his initial explosiveness. But those are arguably the biggest negatives on his scouting report.
As an athlete, while Smith doesn’t quite have elite initial burst, he does have good long-track explosiveness. He’s also incredibly fleet-footed and fluid in his hips, with the agility to mirror and carry receivers upfield. With this athleticism, he has the versatility to play two-high, single-high, or play in man out of the slot.
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On top of his highly-translatable coverage athleticism, Smith is an elite processor. He can anticipate routes and react to breaks with rare quickness, but he also plays well in zone, positions himself effectively, and manages space with ease.
He’s a playmaker once he triggers, with the ball skills to generate turnovers and the hit power and physicality to jar opponents and make crucial stops. And in run support, Smith holds up very well, in spite of his lack of size, with sure tackling ability and strong angles.
Smith isn’t the size-speed phenom that’s been coveted in recent years. Nevertheless, high-quality safety play can be difficult to find in the NFL, and it’s something Smith can provide in various roles and alignments. He has impact starter potential early in his career as a free safety with slot capabilities.