FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith is confident he can play outside linebacker in the NFL.
He believes his performance on Arkansas’ pro day continued to prove it Wednesday.
Smith, who is one of Arkansas’ top pro prospects this winter, was one of 14 Razorbacks who worked out for NFL personnel inside the Walker Pavilion. The North Carolina native spent nearly all of his Arkansas career playing defensive end, but ran through an extensive list of drills as an outside linebacker.
“I think it was real important,” Smith said after the workout. “I mean, because I can rush the passer from the two-point stance and three-point stance. I think they wanted to see more of the drop and stuff. I did a little bit of that at Arkansas, but I think they wanted to see that. So hopefully I’m getting good feedback.”
It was the second time in the past two weeks the 6-foot-1, 266-pound Smith — who is considered undersized for a defensive end in pro football — has been put to the test as a linebacker. He also worked there at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Smith — who caught passes from former Razorback and New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett during linebacker drill work Wednesday — said he’s comfortable at either position as he moves closer to a pro career. The reason: His linebacker work during the 2011 season, when former Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes tinkered with Smith at an outside position.
“Some teams want my hand in the grass,” Smith said. “But most of them want me to stand up at outside linebacker. I can do either one. my junior year helped me be more versatile to where I’m ahead now. So I’m used to it. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Smith did not participate in strength, speed and agility tests during Arkansas’ pro day, letting his numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine stand. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds in Indianapolis, bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times, had a 37-inch vertical jump and finished the three-cone drill in 7.75 seconds.
He wasn’t alone in letting his NFL Combine numbers stand.
Arkansas center Travis Swanson also concentrated on position drills Wednesday. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Swanson ran the 40 in 5.28 seconds, benched 225 pounds 20 times and ran the three-cone drill in 7.73 seconds at the Combine.
“When I kind of started this whole process, I wanted to do stuff at the combine, then come into Pro Day completely just focused on my position drills and stuff,” Swanson said. “I feel like what I did at the Combine was fine. What I did great was the things that you don’t see, the things behind closed doors, both medical and formal and informal interviews. That’s where I felt great leaving the Combine.”
Pro day was the first chance for other former Razorbacks like fullback Kiero Small, receivers Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton, and offensive lineman David Hurd to be tested, measured and worked out by NFL personnel. Defensive tackle Byran Jones (calf injury) didn’t participate and Robert Thomas (broken leg rehabilitation) was limited, but both will work out for scouts on April 1.
Herndon turned in the fastest 40-yard dash time, clocking 4.47 seconds. Thomas had the top bench press with 37 repetitions. Linebacker Jarrett Lake and defensive back Price Holmes had the best vertical jumps (35.5 inches).
“I feel real confident about it,” Hurd said after his pro day, which wrapped up with position drills with Swanson. “I feel like I’m one of the top tackles in the nation even though maybe I’m not ranked like that. I’ve given up two sacks in two years against the best in the nation. And I feel like I performed very well today, too.”
Hurd and the rest of the draft prospects now wait for NFL Draft weekend, which will be held May 8-10. Some Arkansas prospects will have private workouts with teams, while others wait and hope to get an opportunity to make an NFL roster.
Smith — who wore a T-shirt with a dollar bill sign on the front for good luck Wednesday — is confident he’ll get an opportunity after his work at the Senior Bowl in January, the NFL Combine last month and pro day Wednesday.
He said it doesn’t matter if it comes at defensive end or outside linebacker.
“I feel like I showed people I can stand up,” Smith said. “I think that was the question and I showed people at the combine because at the Senior Bowl I had my hand in the grass a lot. I feel like I accomplished a lot. But it’s not finished yet. Just got to keep on working.”