A Michigan guy?
The large segment of Browns fans who want to see Cleveland draft nothing but Ohio State Buckeyes players need to relax. The Browns need help at defensive tackle. Besides, the last defensive tackle the Browns took from Ohio State hasn’t exactly panned out. So, why not look at talent anywhere it can be found? It worked out with wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones so far.
Mazi Smith DT Michigan 6-foot-3, 337lbs.
Mazi Smith should be a first-round pick. He may not be though.
In October of 2022, Smith was charged with carrying a concealed weapon which is a felony charge. In December of 2022, that charge was dropped as a part of a plea deal that landed him 12 months probation. Character concerns may drop him out of the first round.
If he falls out of the first round, the Browns should run to the podium to draft him.
Mazi Smith is a run-stopping machine. He possesses all the skills a team is looking for in a zero to 3 technique. He has excellent later skills enabling him to cross the blocker’s face in zone players. He uses an excellent punch to get separation from blockers, put on a move, and get free.
If there are negatives to his game, and this is nitpicky, he will sometimes miss tackles in the hole. After doing all the work to get free, he will end up missing the tackle. Also, he will sometimes line up further off the ball to get a better read off the blocker. This makes him “late” off the ball which can lead to being blocked.
Mazi Smith is an excellent technical pass rusher. He cannot be blocked one on one. Ohio State tried it a couple of times and wished they had not. But even double-teamed, he will employ a rip, swim and push and pull technique. Given that he is doubled incessantly, he has not shown a bull rush.
If there is a negative to his pass rush game, he sometimes is “late” off the ball. As mentioned above, he will sometimes line up off the ball to get a better read of the offensive lineman. Doing so gives the offensive lineman an extra step that Smith could afford to give in college but will not get away with in the NFL.
Smith and the Browns
Mazi Smith would be a perfect addition to the Browns’ defensive tackle room based on his ability to play football. He brings the run-stopping size and skills they sorely need. He can rush the passer utilizing excellent technique. He is unblockable one-on-one.
The issue of concealed weapons will be one the Browns will need to monitor. But honestly, Ohio is a constitutional carry state. Smith can legally bring a whole arsenal to Cleveland under current state laws.
Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine said, “You don’t win games with boy scouts”. At some point, the Browns have to take a chance on a guy with a checkered past. Provided Smith is compliant with his probation and obeys state laws, the Browns should welcome him to Cleveland.