In what can be described as a night and difference, Cincinnati Bengals‘ right tackle Andre Smith was the number one recruit on the two top recruiting websites out of high school, and was even named “Mr. Alabama”. Then when he decided to turn pro he came to the 2009 NFL Combine weighing 332 pounds and looking completely out of shape.
Smith alsoran 40 yards shirtless at the combine, clocking at a slow 5.28, and had a disappointing 19 repetitions on the bench with 225 pounds, which is especially low for someone of that stature. He also held out for a larger rookie contract and missed all of his rookie year’s training camp, and ultimately signed a 6-year, 42 million dollar deal with only $21 million guaranteed, which is considerably less then he thought what he was worth.
In his first two seasons, Smith was battling foot injuries that ended both seasons prematurely. However, in 2011, Smith–with the guidance of teammate Andrew Whitworth–worked hard to get himself into playing shape for the season, and played in 14 games and looked drastically better.
This past season, he played in all 16 games for the first time in his career and helped bust open holes wide open for new comer running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis, and eventually was rewarded with first team All-Pro honors. Now that he’s a free agent, he could likely cash-in and become one of the highest paid right tackles in the league and if he keeps up the great hard work he will become yet even better for years to come.