Seattle Seahawks linebacker and USC Product Malcolm Smith, upper right, flips over Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall, lower right, as quarterback Steven Threet looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, in Los Angeles.
This post is the beginning of a individual look at each one of the Seattle Seahawks draft picks leading up to (we hope) the beginning of training camp at the end of July.
And so we begin with USC product Malcolm Smith.
For Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Smith is a known commodity because he coached him while with the Trojans. Although Smith is light for a linebacker at 6-foot, 226 pounds, Carroll believes that he can get up to about 240 pounds, and likes his ability to play with speed an agility at the linebacker position.
The team’s final pick, Smith was drafted 242nd overall in the seventh round.
“He has tremendous cover skills and an ability to blitz, and he’s a penetrating, run-through type of guy,” Carroll said. “He gets to 235 or 238, he’ll be just fine. I’m not worried about that. We want him to play with the speed that he has, and the suddenness that he brings.”
The skinny: Smith, who turns 22 on July 5, is a ridiculous athlete. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at USC’s pro day, posted a vertical jump of 39 inches, leaped 10.5 feet in the broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times. And oh, by the way – he can play, too.
He finished with three career touchdowns – two interceptions and a fumble returned for scores. Smith totalled 150 tackles in two years a starter at weak-side, outside linebacker for the Trojans.
Smith also served as a defensive captain at USC.
During is time at USC, Smith was diagnosed and treated for achalasia, a rare disease of the esophagus that hinders swallowing. Smith had surgery to correct the issue.
“I feel like I am almost back to where I was before,” he said. “I was at a place where it was really hard for me to do things. But where I am now, I am just grateful that there is a medical processes like that, or else it could have affected my development.”
All in the family: Malcolm’s brother is New York Giants receiver Steve Smith, who also played at USC before heading to the NFL. Malcolm said his brother helped him prepare for what he will face in his rookie season.
“He does a great job of trying to get better every day and making sure that he has put in the best effort he can and protecting his investment in himself as far as just getting the best out of himself,” Malcolm said about his brother. “I feel like I can take that from him and learn a lot of things from him.”
2011 expectations: Smith should benefit from the fact that he already knows Seattle’s defensive system from his time playing for Carroll at USC. Expect him to get a chance to get on the field in the Seahawks’ third down packages as an outside backer.
Smith also gives Seattle someone to play Will if David Hawthorne has to slide inside to play Mike for Lofa Tatupu.
“He’s not built like a linebacker, he’s built like a skilled athlete,” Carroll said. “So, in nickel situations, he’ll be able to match up with anybody that we see.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to develop him more. He’s played in our system, so we know that he can do those things, and that’s why to us he is maybe more valuable than he is to anybody else.”