The Detroit Lions broke weeks of silence by making their first transaction since releasing Stephen Tulloch in early July. On Wednesday afternoon the team announced they have signed defensive end Quanterus Smith.
Smith is a former fifth-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 2013. Since joining the Broncos, Smith has suffered a myriad of injuries. His rookie season was lost to a torn ACL suffered during his time at Western Kentucky. After playing in 15 games and tallying 11 tackles in 2014 (while grading negatively in all but one game, according to PFF), the Broncos waived him after failing a physical in 2015.
Possesses the length pro coaches love to see on their defense. Flashes the explosion off the snap as an edge rusher to beat most college tackles to the back of the pocket. Agile enough to contain on the edge and move in space when asked to drop, as well as the motor to hustle down the line and fight to the quarterback until the ball is away. Plays the weak and strong sides of the formation, using extension and a bit more lower body strength than expected given his size to hold his own against right tackles. Hand use greatly improved between junior and senior seasons. Now possesses active, disruptive hands, constantly fighting for inside position and waxing blockers’ hands off his body. Has the flexibility to dip his shoulder and reduce his surface area coming around the edge. Creative pass rusher who understands the art of the slow rush. Gets the offensive tackle to over-commit, then beats him with a rip to the outside or swim to the inside. Makes plays on coverage units as an interior presence.
Pad level coming off the ball is poor. Needs to learn fire off low, roll his hips through contact, and convert speed to power. Must work on tightening his path to the quarterback around the corner, as he can be ridden out of the pocket too easily. Cheats back off the line of scrimmage obviously when twisting with the defensive tackle. Needs to continue adding bulk and filling out his frame. Good first step, but isn’t lightning quick. Coming off reconstructive knee surgery performed in November, and likely will not be able to contribute in 2012.
In Detroit, Smith will have a chance to compete at one of the Lions’ weakest positions. The Lions have their starters in Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor, but outside of Wallace Gilberry, they don’t really have much depth. Smith doesn’t exactly have a spectacular resume in the NFL, but if he can put his injuries behind him and show some marked improvement, there’s a chance he could make the Lions’ final 53-man roster.
The Detroit Lions still have one vacant position in their roster.