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NFL Draft Prospect: Braden Smith

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Smith would fill a big hole on the Arizona Cardinals offensive line

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Braden Smith (6-6, 315lbs) is a former four-star offensive guard recruit from Olathe, Kansas. Since signing with the Auburn Tigers, he appeared in 53 games and started in 41 consecutive games.

The 21-year-old offensive linemen was the highest graded Auburn Tiger by Pro Football Focus for a reason and his play certainly backs that up. Not only was Smith impressive with his durability but also with his versatility, playing both the right guard and right tackle positions at a high level.

The Cardinals need to get younger, healthier, and stronger on the offensive line. Fortunately, Smith has been healthy throughout his college career and was a hulk for the Tiger’s offense. Maybe Steve Keim will finally have some luck drafting a quality offensive linemen.

We have seen on many countless occasions where top combine performers don’t play up to their physical talents. Players can be the fastest or the strongest, but can they play at a high level? Bengals John Ross and Cardinals Haason Reddick were outstanding performers at the 2017 combine but they left a lot to be desired by season’s end. There is no guarantee that Smith will be a good player in the NFL just because he benched 35 reps of 225lbs. But he does have the upper-body strength that many of Keim’s previous draft picks lacked.

Even though he played in mostly spread offensive formations at Auburn, Smith showcased his skills as a talented pass blocker with room to grow as a run blocker. He is not as agile like Quenton Nelson or as popular as Billy Price, but he has the high motor and work ethic that will take him far at the professional level.

With that said, the Cardinals will make a strong effort to improve their offensive line. With the uncertain futures of Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer on the team, Smith would certainty provide some stability.

He is currently projected as a second round pick and could be the first Auburn player taken in the upcoming draft.