Keith Smith, OLB: What Does He Bring to the Cowboys?

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Keith Smith led the nation in 2013 with 159 tackles, (13.2 per game avg) and became the third FBS player in NCAA history to log two games with over 20 tackles. He was the first to do it in back to back games.

keith smith olb san jose state

Keith Smith was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent following the 2014 NFL draft. After seeing limited game time he finished the season with seven tackles and a forced fumble.


Keith Smith: OLB

Height|Weight: 6-0 232

College: San Jose State

40 time: 4.98

Bench reps: 26

NFL experience: 1 year.

College career:

2013 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FIRST TEAM (COACHES/MEDIA): LB Keith Smith, Sr., San Jose State,…Smith is the 2013 national leader in tackles with his 159 stops and his 13.2 per game average. He became only the third Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) player in NCAA history to record two games of 20 or more tackles and the first to do it in back-to-back games with his career-best 21 tackles at Minnesota on September 21 and 20 six nights later against Utah State. The 2013 co-captain becomes the second San Jose State player to receive first or second-team all-conference football honors four times. In 2012, Smith was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) choice. The 2010 WAC Freshman of the Year was a second-team All-WAC honoree that year and in 2011. (Offensive tackle Max Hooper (1978-81) was the first four-time all-conference football player at San Jose State.) – San Jose State football

NFL Career:

Keith Smith made his NFL debut in the Cowboys’ 34-31 win over the St. Louis Rams. He lined up with the defense on the play where the Cowboys stopped the Rams on 4th down & inches in the third quarter. After being waived back down to the practice squad the next day, this pattern would repeat two more times during the season, until he was re-signed to the active roster on November 26th.

On May 14, 2015, he was released after rookie minicamp to make room for free agent safety Danny McCray. He was re-signed on July 31, a day after linebacker Keith Rivers announced his retirement. It’s obvious the Cowboys see something they like in this kid because they brought him back. He is starting to turn some heads as well.

Per Bryan Broaddus: Keith Smith knocked the ball out of Benny Cunningham’s hands after he caught a check down pass during the Cowboys practice vs the Rams. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the kid, but I am not in the habit of watching San Jose State. YDCFF does a pre draft series every year (The Guys No One Is Talking About) prior to the draft. This kid fits the bill so I decided to watch some tape.

Film Study:

  • Keith Smith has a powerful upper body and it’s obvious he is no stranger to the weight room… He plays very aggressive football… Not afraid to fly downhill and take on the ball carrier head on… Breaks down, wraps up, true form tackler… Has good vision, instincts and understands his assignments… Rangy, always around the ball… Moves well laterally… Takes good angles… Moves well through traffic… Does a nice job of getting off blocks… Solid run defender… Plays with patience…
  •  Keith Smith lacks elite speed and ideal length to cover the bigger more athletic TEs in man. Better suited for a zone… A bit stiff in the hips, which limits his change of direction… Despite being a ball hawk, he’s late to the play at times when it goes away from him: This is a result of his lack of straight line speed… Could stand to improve his technique when used in blitz packages…

Overall Keith Smith is a solid LB who was exciting to watch. He makes up for his lack of speed with good diagnostic skills and instincts. Very good tackler and an asset against the run. You don’t see him over run the play or miss tackles. He isn’t the best cover guy I ever saw, but this kid attacks the ball and has soft hands. He could prove to be a solid backup and eventually develop in to a starter.

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