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Clifton Smith

MLB | (6-2, 253, 4.86) | Syracuse
By Pro Football Weekly

Notes: High school All-American and New York (State) Player of the Year. Freshman All-American in 1999, when he started eight-of-11 games. Started every game in 2000 and '01 and won All-Big East honors both years. Had 66 tackles in 1999; 108 in 2000; and 94 in '01. Sat out the spring of 2002 after undergoing shoulder surgery in January. Started all 12 games in '02, making 136 tackles, including 15 for loss, two sacks, one interception, three passes broken up, four QB hurries and one fumble recovery. Earned second-team All-Big East honors and was invited to the Senior Bowl. Had a discouraging workout at the Scouting Combine, where he did not look athletic and pulled up with a strained hamstring.

Positives: Has strength, size and power. Excellent reading keys and diagnosing plays without wasting any time. Anticipates well, steps up and fills. Strong, tough and instinctive. Very good vs. the inside or outside run. Explosive wrap-up tackler who explodes through his man. Can blitz. Neat freak with top character. Captain and leader. Good competitor who is very intense in practice and games. Much smarter than tests. Very productive. Has top football intelligence. Articulate, speaks well and comes across as smart. Explosive, flexible and very durable, playing in every game. Physical and nasty tackler who uses his hands well. Calls defensive signals. Everyone speaks highly of him.

Negatives: Lacks change of direction, instincts and range. Does not have great speed. Needs to learn to shed blocks and use his hands better. Does not take great angles or have great game speed. Makes a lot of bad reads, takes false steps and will overrun plays. Does not have great awareness or skills in pass coverage. Needs to control his weight. Got up to 263 pounds in '01 and should be 245-250.

Summary: Had more tackles in college (405) than Ray Lewis at Miami (Fla.), but Smith is best suited as a two-down, against-the-run middle linebacker because he doesn't always play to his timed speed and makes too many bad reads.

* Player biographies are provided by Pro Football Weekly.