Bears

NFL draft deep dive: Who is Ohio State edge rusher Tyreke Smith?

Ohio State defensive lineman Tyreke Smith plays against Penn State on, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Bears are set at edge rusher with Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad. Those two veterans will start and third-year pro Trevis Gipson figures to be part of the rotation.

The current Bears roster feels complete at few positions, but edge rusher is one of them. If there’s one position new general manager Ryan Poles isn’t going to select in the draft, edge rusher feels like a safe bet outside of maybe the quarterback position.

That being said, Quinn isn’t getting any younger. If the team wants to unload him in a trade next offseason, they’ll want to have some options waiting in the wings to take over at edge rusher. If the Bears do draft an edge rusher in 2022, it will likely come later in the draft.

One name to watch could be Ohio State’s Tyreke Smith, who is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. The Bears don’t have a fourth-round pick but they have two in the fifth round (148 and 150 overall).

Smith is likely a project for whoever drafts him. He’s a gifted athlete but needs to be more consistent and stay healthy. He didn’t become a full-time starter at Ohio State until his senior season in 2021. His numbers aren’t overwhelming, either. He had eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 41 career games.

“I feel like I haven’t really scratched the surface of what I could really be,” Smith said at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine. “The NFL plays a unique type of way. I got a taste of it at the Senior Bowl, just being coached by the Jets, the way they play, just real fast-paced and really just demolishing your guy, just getting after the ball.”

Smith missed three games last season due to injury. A season earlier, he missed the national championship game against Alabama due to COVID-19. He arrived at Ohio State in 2018 as a big-time recruit, a four-star prospect out of Cleveland.

Somebody will draft him based on his potential, but it might take some time to see the results. A backup role could be an ideal role for him to get his feet wet in the NFL.

Smith sought out the advice of some former Buckeyes after the season. He sent his tape to Chase Young and Nick Bosa. He also sent it to Las Vegas Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby, who didn’t go to Ohio State but who Smith has gotten to know a little bit.

“He’s relentless in his pass rush,” Smith said of Crosby. “When I send the tape to him, he’s quick to respond back. Whether I’m not taking a good rush angle to him, he’s telling me to step on the guys’ toes, make them feel you. He’s always giving me good pointers.”

Prospect breakdown

Tyreke Smith, Edge, Ohio State

Height: 6-3

Weight: 254

College career: A four-star recruit out of Cleveland, Smith appeared in 13 games as a true freshman in 2018 at Ohio State. He missed three games due to a groin injury as a sophomore and missed a couple games again as a senior due to injury. Smith totaled eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 41 games at Ohio State. He became a full-time starter in 2021, recording three sacks and five tackles for loss.

They said it: “Tyreke Smith, I think, is probably in that fourth-round range. He’s talented. He’s got a lot of twitch. He’s got a lot of juice coming off the edge. He just needs to be a little more firm in the run game.” –Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com draft analyst

Draft projection: 4th-5th round

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.