Nolan Smith Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia defensive lineman Nolan Smith (DL45) participates in drills during the NFL combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL scouts didn’t get to see much of Georgia Bulldogs edge defender Nolan Smith in 2022, after a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him for the season in late October.

Scouts got a really good look at the Smith in the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday, although they might not have believed what they’d seen. The 6-2, 238-pound Smith ran a scorching 4.38-second 40-yard dash.

That’s the second-fastest 40 time by a defensive lineman since 2003. Carolina Panthers defensive end Amaré Barno posted a 4.36 in the 40 in the 2022 combine.

As if that was not enough, Smith posted an impressive 41.5-inch vertical leap. To put that in perspective, Saquon Barkley had a 41-inch vertical leap at his combine. So in Smith, we have a player who is 2-plus inches taller and a few pounds heavier, with a better vertical leap and faster 40 speed (Barkley clocked a 4.40). Barkley is widely hailed as one of the best athletes in the NFL.

How rare was Smith’s performance? The NFL Network reported that Smith is the heaviest player with a sub-4.4 in the 40 and vertical over 40 inches in combine history.

Granted, there should be a law requiring us to mention here that incredible combine stats don’t equate to NFL stardom. They sure don’t hurt, however. Smith’s stock had risen in recent weeks, putting him as a late first-round pick in many mock drafts; don’t be surprised if Thursday’s showing doesn’t entice someone to bite earlier.

NFL Twitter quickly weighed in on Smith.

[NFL Research]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.