JBB Draft Profile: Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State, Potential Third Round Steal

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Nov 23, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs safety Derron Smith (13) reacts after recording a sack against the New Mexico Lobos in the second quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Derron Smith is widely recognized as one of the best if not the best safety prospect in the 2015 draft.  He has a great combination of athleticism, intelligence and intangibles that should allow him to develop rapidly into a Pro Bowl-caliber NFL free safety. Despite playing most of his college football against weaker mid-major competition, he has had some of his best games against top-tier opponents, including recording 28 tackles and a pick-six in two games against USC. He has the speed, size, and skill set to compete for a starting job almost immediately for the Raiders if Charles Woodson does retire, and he has the humility and work ethic to learn from the future Hall of Famer should Woodson return for another year. Because of that Smith can develop into a leader on defense, and his ability to play against the run, cover the pass, and rush the passer will make him a key element in anything that Jason Tarver – or whoever the next Raider defensive coordinator may be – will want to do with his free safety.

Smith’s draft stock may be slipping, however, due to a lack of highlight plays and poor team performance this season – he hasn’t had a single pick in eight games so far, and Fresno State’s defense has been gashed for 50+ on several occasions – but he has not personally regressed. He has shown that he can improve his game and get bigger and stronger with each passing season, and this will likely continue in the pros. Because he may become overshadowed by players like Ole Miss’ Cody Prewitt, there is a strong chance that he could fall to the 3rd round. If he does, the Raiders should absolutely take him and solidify the free safety spot for years to come in a round where the Raiders could more than afford a shot at a talented and proven safety out of the Mountain West in Smith