NFL Draft Profile: S Harrison Smith

While the majority of third round draft profile’s for the Colts have been wide receivers, for good reason, the Colts have multiple holes on the defense as well. One of the most glaring weaknesses for the 2012 defense is the strong safety position.

While the Colts have a rock at free safety, six-year veteran Antoine Bethea, the only players at strong safety in 2012 were David Caldwell and Joe Lefeged. While those players may have showed potential, they also showed that neither player was ready to be a starting safety (and may never be).

So, while the 2012 safety class is a thin one, the Colts may have their eye on a few players. One such player is Notre Dame senior Harrison Smith, a possible contender for a starting spot in the NFL.


  • Smart, instinctive safety, plays “center-field” in a zone system well

  • Strong run supporting safety, plays downhill towards the line of scrimmage with consistent tackling

  • Solid build at 6’2″ and 215 lbs., uses his length to break up pass plays


  • Struggles with man-to-man due to lack of speed

  • Tackling technique is questionable at times

  • Inconsistent footwork, again can be exploited in man-to-man

Health Check:

I couldn’t find anything with a quick Google search, and all records indicate that Smith has not missed a game during his college career. With his solid build, he looks to be a pretty durable player, although that is never an exact science. 

How He Fits With the Colts

Smith is exactly the type of strong safety that the Colts should have been looking for to fill the role of Bob Sanders in the previous regime’s defense. Unfortunately, with the new scheme being inserted by Chuck Pagano, I’m unsure as to whether Smith would fit. 

If the new scheme can function with Smith being able to fill a center-fielder role, as a zone safety and run defender, then Smith would be well worth a third round pick. While his tackling technique has questions at times, that can be corrected, while his instincts for the ball cannot be taught. If the Colts don’t have one of their target receivers, cornerbacks, or defensive tackles fall to them in the third round, Smith may be a player worth considering. Of course, all that is null and void if Pagano’s new system requires Smith to be an exceptional man-to-man player. But, under my understanding, Pagano is willing to work with the players he’s given, and has a creative mind, so what we see in August could be just about anything. 


Year Tackles TFL Sacks Int. Passes Defended
2008 57 8.5 3.5 0 7
2009 69 6.5 0 0 4
2010 91 0.5 0 7 14
2011 90 3.0 0 0 10
Totals 307 18.5 3.5 7 35

Combine Results:

40-yard Dash: 4.57 seconds (7th among Safeties)

Bench Press: 19 repetitions (Tied for 7th among Safeties)

Vertical Jump: 34.0 inches (Tied for 10th among Safeties)

Broad Jump: 122.0 inches (Tied for 8th among Safeties)

Three-Cone Drill: 6.63 seconds (1st among Safeties, 7th overall)

20-yard Shuffle: 4.12 seconds (2nd among Safeties)


Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.