Following their selection of QB Aidan O’Connell, the Raiders refocused on their secondary.
With the 170th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Las Vegas took their second defensive back of the day in selecting Georgia’s Christopher Smith II.
Smith II is rated as the 4th most productive safety heading into the draft according to NFL.com after intercepting 6 passes in his final two seasons at Georgia. Last year’s first-team All-Pro at the safety position, Talanoa Hufanga, is also a player who was drafted in the 5th round—proving that talent can be found at safety later in the draft.
Smith takes inspiration from many players. “Tyrann Matheiu, Derwin James, Eddie Jackson,” said Smith II speaking with media after being selected by the Raiders. “There’s plenty of guys I watch and try add little pieces of their games into mine to make me the best player possible.”
The Raiders not only need turnovers—where they ranked last in the NFL in 2022—but also a hard-hitting presence which is exactly what the players Smith II studies are for their teams.
“Tough and violent,” said Smith II on his approach to football. “I’m not the biggest, but I like to make up for that with how I attack the game.”
One of Smith’s signature plays came in 2021, against a then-undefeated no.3 ranked Clemson team, where Smith returned an interception for a touchdown.
Smith finished his collegiate career at Georgia as a national champion, starting all 15 games for the Bulldogs en-route to a perfect season.