If you remember Jason Taylor from back in the day, you likely recall a 6’6″, 244-pound defensive end that played 15 years in the NFL, being named a Pro Bowler six times and first-team All-Pro three times. While the New York Giants didn’t draft Taylor, they landed his physical replica in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa wasn’t exactly a household name when the Giants elected him, but his statistics at the collegiate level stand out tremendously. During his last season of play in 2019, Elerson posted 14.0 sacks, 28 solo tackles, and forced five fumbles. He was an absolute menace for their defensive front as a 6″7″, 245-pound outside linebacker. He added about 70-pounds of muscle mass since his senior year of high school to his most recent college campaign.
The Giants plan to use Smith a bit differently than Taylor, who was a traditional DE in a 3-4 point stance. The Northern Iowa product will likely be a standup pass rusher, representing a fantastic speed option off the edge, which coordinator Patrick Graham can deploy to take it vantage of matchups.
Best Day 3 Pick: #Giants: Elerson Smith – EDGE/Northern Iowa
A Jayson Taylor clone. Overlooked because of program and cancelled 2020 season. Unique physical tool set to go along with grit, hustle, and intelligence. More upside than round 2 pick Ojulari.
— David Syvertsen (@Ourlads_Sy) June 15, 2021
Smith is one of the most impressive physical specimens from this most recent draft class, landing the highest vertical jump of any defensive end in the draft. As a Senior Bowl stand-out, Smith has the physical tools to dominate at the next level, and with a bit more size and strength, he could end up being a starter long term for the Giants.
He currently possesses a nice speed rush but could add a bit more power to improve his speed-to-power transition. His frame has a bit more room to grow, and with professional coaching and dietary guidelines, there’s no question he could end up being an impact player in year one for a Big Blue. Considering the connection to Taylor, who recorded 139.5 sacks over the course of his career, including 18.5 in 2002, it proves that Smith has the size to get the job done.
The Giants might’ve landed a steal in the 4th round, and even if he starts his career contributing on special teams, there is no situated starting outside linebacker unit just yet, so if he performs well during camp and takes gradual steps forward, he could find himself earning live reps in the regular season.