Arizona Cardinals hoping lineman can fulfill his potential
By Jim Koch
Andre Smith was a highly-touted sixth-overall draft pick who has failed to live up to the enormous hype that surrounded him
The 2018 configuration of the Arizona Cardinals offensive line now appears to be set. The trade that sent Jared Veldheer to the Denver Broncos has solidified a spot among the group for one of the club’s new acquisitions. A player who was once highly-touted, but has failed to live up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon him back in 2009.
Long-time Cincinnati Bengal Andre Smith has been handed the Cards’ starting right guard assignment. Veldheer’s struggles at that post in 2017 were a detriment to the line. Arizona general manager Steve Keim is hoping that Smith will flash some of the ability that made him one of the top offensive lineman in the nation back in 2008.
The former Alabama University star dominated the SEC conference during the three seasons that he played at the school. Smith did run into a bit of hot water in December of ’08 when it was reported that he had been in contact with a sports agent. The infraction got the consensus All-American suspended from the 2009 Sugar Bowl, a game in which the Crimson Tide ended up losing 31-17 to the University of Utah.
After poor performances at both the ’09 NFL Combine and Alabama’s Pro Day, draft experts expected Smith’s stock to plummet. The Bengals weren’t scared off, however, electing to use the sixth-overall pick on the up and down prospect. But, unfortunately, the 6’4″, 330 pounder’s troubles were just beginning.
Smith proceeded to miss Cincinnati’s training camp and three preseason contests due to a contract dispute. Then, shortly after agreeing to a deal, Cincy’s projected starting right tackle fractured his left foot in practice. Smith ended up starting just one game in what turned out to be a disastrous rookie campaign.
The Birmingham Alabama native’s career has been a rollercoaster ride ever since. Smith has completed just two full seasons in his nine years as a professional. Most of the mammoth physical specimen’s time has been spent at right tackle, but Smith has also played some at guard.
Smith did leave the Bengals in 2016, signing on as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. His time as a “Purple People Eater” consisted of just four starts, ultimately cut short because of a triceps injury. The following year, Smith was back in Cincinnati, a real-life case of a “Prodigal Son” returning home.
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The 31-year old veteran is now getting a fresh start in the desert. Perhaps a new beginning will be what’s needed to bring out some untapped potential in the talented Smith. The Cardinals organization is vehemently hoping that the change of scenery will do the trick.