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Q&A with Missouri DE-OLB Aldon Smith

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Posted April 03, 2011 @ 5:21 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Despite a small body of work in college, Missouri DL Aldon Smith is one of the most intriguing draft prospects among a deep and versatile crop of defensive linemen. Smith played only two seasons for the Tigers and spent much of the 2010 campaign at less than 100 percent because of a fibula injury suffered early in the season. Still, his versatility and production have teams early in the first round intrigued by his skills as a defensive end, linebacker or three-technique tackle.

In PFW's 2011 Draft Preview book, draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki writes that Smith has great potential — "Is at his best creating mismatches with his hand on the ground from the inside. … Can make an immediate impact rushing the passer but his best football is a few years away."

Smith spoke with PFW about his health, the depth of the D-line class and his favorite play from his college career.

PFW: Are you fully healthy?

Smith: I broke my fibula, but it's straight. I'm good now.

PFW: How have the workouts been going? What have teams been asking you to do?

Smith: Some of the teams that are looking at me that run a 3-4, they've been asking me to do some drops and stuff. And the 4-3 teams, I've been doing a lot of lineman work and they want to see me draw some stuff on the board.

PFW: Do you have a preference which position you play in the NFL?

Smith: I don't mind either one. I love standing up, when I had the chance to stand up at Missouri. And you know I play lineman, so I love that position too. Wherever, I can play wherever.

PFW: Is there a challenge in not knowing which position you'll play in the league?

Smith: I'm going to have to learn either one pretty much from scratch since the NFL is so much different than college. So that's how I feel about that.

PFW: Where have you been training since declaring for the draft?

Smith: Athletes' Performance (Institute) in Arizona.

PFW: Is there anything specifically that you've been working on improving?

Smith: When I was there I was working on improving my strength. I wanted to add some weight.

PFW: What do you want your playing weight to be?

Smith: I'm at 265 right now. Anywhere between 260 and 265 is good for me.

PFW: This year's class of defensive linemen is especially deep. Do you see yourself in competition with the likes of Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, J.J. Watt, etc.?

Smith: I think we're all different types of D-linemen. Some of them are more like two-gap players, some of them are pure defensive ends or D-tackles. I think everybody has something that they can offer different. That's what makes this year's draft so unique.

PFW: Do you find yourself watching what they're doing and trying to steal something from their games?

Smith: As a matter of fact I worked out with J.J. Watt and Marcell (Dareus) and Cameron Jordan, you know, I worked out with a lot of people. And we actually learned a lot from each other in the time we were working out. So we kind of all bit off from each other in different ways.

PFW: Have you spent much time looking at mock drafts to see where you might end up?

Smith: Yeah I got some friends sometimes that will call and ask me if I'm going to so-and-so place that they've seen or whatever. So sometimes I get a little mock draft info from my friends.

PFW: Do you think about what the mocks are projecting?

Smith: No, I don't believe any of that. I mean it's good to hear but it doesn't really affect how I do anything.

PFW: When did you start believing you might have a future playing football?

Smith: My coach told me in high school that I'd have a future. He told me I could play Division I football and then he told me I had a chance to go to the NFL if I worked hard. Me and my coach had a great relationship in high school and I think when he told me I kind of just jumped at what he said. So I think that's kind of it.

PFW: What are your hobbies outside of football?

Smith: I like just, if I could go on a vacation or something. Try new things or go to amusement parks. Doing that kind of stuff.

PFW: Favorite artists to listen to when working out?

Smith: Oh man, I listen to J. Cole, Wale, Lil' Wayne, Wiz Khalifa.

PFW: Finally, if you could choose, would you rather sack a quarterback or grab an interception?

Smith: Oh man, probably a pick. I'd want to get an interception.

PFW: You didn't have many of those in college.

Smith: I had one in college, against OU.

PFW: Right, with the 58-yard return. What was that like?

Smith: It was crazy, that was definitely a moment I'll never forget. That was great. That was a big deal, it changed a lot. The momentum shift and everything, it was real good.

 

Pro Football Weekly's 2011 Draft Preview book is now on sale.

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