With this edition of “Getting to Know,” we turn to Chris Brown of Smart Football fame. Chris covers football at all levels — history, philosophy, Xs and Os — and was the author of several poignant Alabama-related pieces over at Grantland. Today, we are pleased to provide his take on the Browns’ seventh-round pick, Brad Smelley.
How would you characterize Brad’s college career?
He was a team first guy at Alabama and carved out a very important role on a star-studded offense. As I wrote in January, even if he’s not a crushing blocker or a Aaron Hernandez vertical threat as a receiver, he’s extremely versatile and, having originally committed to Alabama as a quarterback, very smart and understands the game.
What are the Browns getting with Smelley?
I do think Brad’s game translates to the NFL, which is why the Browns picked up a guy who maybe doesn’t jump off the charts athletically. If nothing else, he’s a good team guy and should contribute on special teams right away. He’s an interesting project. I didn’t analyze enough to know whether he’d be picked, but was happy to see that he was.
Brad isn’t a true-to-mold fullback, nor is he of the Jimmy Graham, pass-catching ilk. Nick Saban isn’t walking through that door. Essentially, where can dp you see Smelley fitting in with the Browns’ West Coast style of offense?
The way they used him at Alabama is basically exactly what I would think the Browns would do: Motioning around as an H-back, athletic enough to line up in the slot sometimes, lots of traps, pulls, kick-out type blocks, and then the fakes off those to release into the flat and so on. Obviously he needs to improve his strength and quickness both for the passing game but also to handle some of those tough edge rushers — he’ll have some tough matchups versus, say, the Ravens and Steelers but in time could develop into a very dependable guy.
Is there an NFL player that you think is a good comparison?
A good analogue for him would be how the 49ers used former sixth-round draft pick (and former WR) Delanie Walker. Walker is a bit more stout than Smelley, though he’s also been in the league for about five years, but Smelley is taller and should continue to fill out. The 49ers did a great job with him on all those traps, kick-outs, whams, and so on for them this year, in addition to being a legit — if unspectacular — receiving threat. I see this being something Smelley could do.
In addition to his take on Smelley, Chris also provided a take on what the Browns did with their first two picks in the NFL Draft – a highly recommended read for those who have yet to see it. Our thanks to him for taking the time.