The New York Giants stunned some specialists once they chosen Northern Iowa exterior linebacker Elerson Smith within the fourth spherical of the 2021 NFL draft.
Smith, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive finish/edge rusher, had performed only one 12 months of faculty soccer and was thought of very inexperienced. The Giants discovered that out final summer season and Smith discovered himself on injured reserve for the primary two months of the season.
When he started to swimsuit up in November, Smith performed solely 19 p.c of the defensive snaps, making eight complete tackles and registering two QB hits.
This 12 months, with Wink Martindale because the defensive coordinator and a 12 months within the NFL beneath his belt, Smith intends to play an even bigger function within the Giants’ protection.
“I’m gonna make sure I take advantage of every opportunity I have in front of me,” Smith told The Post this offseason. “If people remember my name or not right now, that’s not gonna help us win games. I’m going to try to take care of the opportunity I have in front of me.”
Smith is up towards a number of obstacles, nevertheless. The Giants’ high decide on this 12 months’s draft, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and final 12 months’s sack chief (Azeez Ojulari) are forward of him on the depth chart, in addition to Oshane Ximines and Quincy Roche.
That is just not the one hurdle Smith has. His body is just not prototypical of the place he performs. He is conscious and has added about 10 kilos since final season to add bulk. It’s arduous to inform, although.
“I’m just tall, stretch it out a little bit so you can’t really tell,” Smith mentioned of his added weight.
Luckily for Smith, Martindale is aware of how to use his linebackers and play off their strengths. Smith’s top may truly assist him in sure conditions.
“I always say there’s a good place for a small person,” Martindale mentioned. “It’s behind a big, long person in this league, because you know, it helps everything. It helps your open-field tackling and helps separating off blocks and it helps going up to the 50/50 ball. Length does play a big part of it.”