The Giants selected Northern Iowa edge rusher Elerson Smith with the 116th pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. And for the first time in the session, the Giants did not trade their selection before picking a player.
Smith did not play football in 2020 because the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) cancelled their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a redshirt junior in 2019, Smith led the MVFC in sacks (14), tackles for loss (21.5), and forced fumbles (5).
Smith's Pro Football Focus pass rush metrics are also strong. He finished his 2019 season at Northern Iowa with 15 quarterback hits, 49 hurries and 77 total pressures. He also batted four passes at the line of scrimmage.
Smith had an impressive run leading up to the draft. First, he flashed pass rush ability against top competition during practice at the Senior Bowl. He had a quarterback hit and five pressures during the game.
He measured at 6'6 and 252 pounds with an impressive 34-inch arms at his pro day and proceeded to finish in the 97th percentile according to RAS testing metrics. He jumped a ridiculous 41.5 inches on his vertical jump.
View photos of Giants fourth-round pick Elerson Smith.
Elerson Smith will join a crowded edge rusher room that will feature 2021 second-round pick Azeez Ojulari, 2018 third-round pick Lorenzo Carter, 2019 third-round pick Oshane Ximines, 2020 sixth-round pick Cam Brown, 2020 seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin and 2021 free agent additions Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson. Carter (achilles) and XIminez (shoulder) are coming off season-ending injuries in 2020.
Smith reported to Northern Iowa as a two-star athlete at under 200 pounds. He put on nearly 60 pounds in college, but is still slender. In a NFL weight room, he could continue to add strength to be a more effective edge setter in the run game.
As a pass rusher, Smith should be able to come in right away to contribute with his combination of length, explosiveness and relentless effort. He capitalized on those attributes with speed-to-power moves and the ability to win off the edge. Smith only dropped into coverage nine times in his final season at Northern Iowa. He had 15 tackles for loss or no gain in the running game and 33 run stops as a redshirt junior, according to Pro Football Focus.
He lined up on the right side of the defense 90% of the time, with just under 100 snaps lining up opposite the right tackle as an edge player off the left side of the defense.
Smith had a minimal role on special teams as a redshirt junior, with 16 snaps on punt coverage and the rest coming on field goal and extra-point block. He had 10 snaps on kickoff and kick return teams as a sophomore.