Braden Smith’s size, strength and durability made him one of the NFL Draft’s best offensive line prospects this year, so he didn’t have to wait long on Friday to hear his name called.
The All-American guard from Olathe South and Auburn went to the Indianapolis Colts with the 37th pick in the second round. He was the third guard selected in the second round’s first five picks, and he will join Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson — the Colts’ first round pick — on an offensive line that Indianapolis is striving to improve.
“Hopefully we can do some great things in Indy,” Smith said.
Smith — a three-time All-Metro selection for The Star as a high schooler — played in all 13 games of his freshman season at Auburn, and he started his final 41 collegiate contests. That consistency helped him receive All-American and All-SEC honors in each of his final two seasons — including first-team honors for both All-America and SEC this past season. His prodigious strength helped, too, of course.
The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Smith did 35 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine, which tied for second most among offensive linemen. That drill also helped him raise $3,294, as he solicited pledges for each rep.
He also had the best vertical jump (33 ½ inches) and broad jump (113 inches) performances of any prospect at his position at the combine, where he met with his new franchise.
“I’ve been talking with some of the guys quite a bit,” Smith said of his dialogue with the Colts during the pre-draft process. “... I had a few calls from the coaches. I felt pretty good interest.”
Smith was the ninth offensive lineman overall to be drafted, and now he will try to allay concerns about his pass blocking, which Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s run-heavy offense has a history of failing to develop in its offensive linemen.
“It’s just basically the player’s attitude and willingness to be a piece of clay and let the coach mold you and how much hard work you’re going to put in to really develop into the player you want to be,” Smith said at the NFL Combine.