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Todd McShay projects Trey Smith to go in the first round

Alabama v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

College football may be an unknown for this year, but the NFL Draft must go on. However it looks and whenever that happens, one of the top offensive lineman available will be Tennessee’s Trey Smith.

The former five-star prospect was a stud from day one for the Volunteers, plugging in and starting at right guard. After two battles with blood clots in his lungs, Smith came back as strong as ever as a junior in 2019. A full season of play put him right back in the mix to be a high draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Smith opted to return and finish what he started in Knoxville.

One more season of distancing himself from his health issues could solidify his status as a first round pick. That’s exactly what ESPN’s Todd McShay is projecting. McShay released a fresh mock draft this morning with Smith heading to the Steelers with the 22nd overall pick.

Here’s the breakdown from McShay.

Pittsburgh could go in a lot of different directions with this pick, including edge rusher, defensive tackle, linebacker, safety or running back. Quarterback is not out of the question either. But zero starting offensive linemen are under contract beyond the 2021 season. Both tackles are actually hitting free agency after the 2020 season, though Smith is better projected at guard in the NFL. Smith is a plug-and-play starter who could be a long-term replacement at left guard for Stefen Wisniewski, with the versatility to move around, despite a bit of injury history to consider.

Smith’s medical checks will obviously be a massive part of his draft process. What team doctors think of his history with blood clots will likely be the determining factor of whether or not Smith can become a first round selection.

Virtually every other box is checked by Smith — character, size, athletic ability — it’s all there. He’s just in need of one more healthy season to prove himself, which is something he says he’s ready to do this fall.