Georgia’s Nolan Smith turns heads on first day of combine workouts

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith dazzled everyone at the NFL combine Thursday on the first day of workouts for college players.

Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, the second-fastest time for a defensive lineman since 2003.

Smith, at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, is considered undersized for a defensive end but he makes up for his lack of mass with pure speed. Smith is versatile and quite athletic. He lined up everywhere on defense for the two-time national champion Bulldogs, including in the secondary.

“This kid can do everything, and he’s another example of how Georgia can develop players,” analyst Charles Davis said on NFL Network’s broadcast.

In four seasons at Georgia, Smith recorded 110 total tackles with 12 1/2 sacks.

Smith’s 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump ranked third among his position group, and his 41.5-inch vertical was first among all defensive linemen.

A leader in the locker room at Georgia, Smith also was impressive in his interviews on Wednesday. He showed poise and maturity.

“Be a man of character no matter what you do,” Smith said. “That’s what my mom always taught me.”

Smith is known for his work ethic, which he learned in college.

“Hard work works,” he said. “There’s no sugarcoating it.”

Smith came to the combine projected to be a late first-round pick and possibly a second-rounder. He’s determined to prove doubters wrong.

“I turned off the mock drafts, I turned off my phone,” Smith said. “I picked up a book. You can’t hurt me. I wanted to create an iron mind that nobody can hurt me. No matter what you say about me, I’m going to work.”

Smith’s Georgia teammate, defensive tackle Jalen Carter, returned to Indianapolis after turning himself in to law enforcement on Wednesday. Carter was charged with two misdemeanors relating to the fatal crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staff member Chandler LeCroy in January.

Smith defended Carter’s character and broke down in tears discussing Willock.

“That’s one person that never did anything wrong,” Smith said of Willock. “I get sensitive talking about it just because I love him and he never did anything wrong in his three years. He was supposed to graduate. Most people don’t know his brother passed like that. And I’m sorry to his mama. No one should live like that. No one deserves to die like that.”