Most NFL fans probably didn’t know who defensive end Quanterus Smith was prior to the 2013 NFL draft as a rush defensive end from little Western Kentucky, a team that most college football fans never got to see play. But for those of us to study prospects, Smith was very much a known commodity. In fact, Smith might have been the best all around pass rusher in the entire draft. However, a devastating knee injury late in the season put his draft stock in serious jeopardy.
Speculation was all over about where Smith would be drafted, with some thinking his potential would put him in the second round, while others thought he would go undrafted completely. In the end the Denver Broncos split the difference by selecting him in the fifth round. But even there, many wondered if the pick would have any value, in particular in his rookie season. What should the Broncos expect from Smith this year?
According to reports during OTAs, Smith is well ahead of schedule and was able to participate in drills. This is great news as he is only seven months removed from his torn ACL and looked to possibly have a redshirt year as a rookie. Instead as training camp approaches, barring any injury setbacks, Smith should be able to work into rotation behind starting defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers. A healthy Smith will be a great player for sub packages and pass rush situations. Smith displayed an excellent set of pass rush moves, a high motor, and great burst off the line of scrimmage. There’s no reason to rush him back, but the more work Smith can get in camp the more prepared he’ll be at the start of the season.
I don’t expect Smith to start this year, but after assuming he would not contribute at all, feeling that he might be able to battle for a key backup role along the defensive line in training camp is a huge plus. Smith is a great player, and at 100% he would make what is already a very talented defensive line even better.