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91 players in 91 days: Defensive tackle Tanzel Smart

The second of Buffalo’s newest players has been a rotational player throughout his professional career

Los Angeles Rams v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

On August 16, the Buffalo Bills signed a pair of defensive tackles to bolster their already excellent defensive line depth. Much of that depth is at the edge, however, so adding a few more bodies to the mix on the interior defensive line makes sense.

It’s easy to dismiss players acquired late in the offseason as camp bodies, but sometimes those players surprise. Ryan Bates is one such example, as Buffalo traded edge rusher Eli Harold for him last August when a few offensive linemen were injured. Bates made the club thanks to a strong preseason showing and his exceptional versatility.

While there isn’t a preseason to showcase his skills, today’s focus in our “91 players in 91 days” series has more NFL game tape than the other defensive tackle Buffalo signed on Sunday.


Name: Tanzel Smart
Number: 74
Position: DT
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 295 lbs
Age: 25 (26 on 11/6/2020)
Experience/Draft: 4; selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the sixth round (No. 189 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft
College: Tulane
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 8/16/2020

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Smart signed a one-year contract, and while terms have yet to be disclosed, we can assume that it’s for the veteran’s minimum with no money guaranteed. Bryan Cox Jr. is another defensive end with four years of service time, and his one-year deal is worth $825,000. That’s what we’re assuming Smart’s cap number to be.

2019 Recap: Smart played in 13 games for the Rams in his third year with the club, and he was a seldom-used rotational piece. He only played on 171 defensive snaps over the course of those 13 games, an average of 13 snaps per contest. Smart made seven total tackles on the season.

Positional outlook: Smart joins fellow newcomer to the roster Justin Zimmer as a player battling for a spot in the back of the rotation. Buffalo’s defensive tackle group already consists of Vernon Butler, Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, Vincent Taylor, and Quinton Jefferson. Smart is a three-tech tackle, meaning that he’d be competing for reps behind Oliver and Jefferson. While Butler is better served as a three-tech, with Star Lotulelei choosing to opt out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, he will be forced to slide over and play the one-tech.

2020 Offseason: Smart was released on May 15 by the Rams.

2020 Season outlook: Smart had a stellar college career where he racked up 183 tackles, 39.5 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks, including a phenomenal senior season (68 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks). He has some ability, and he’d make a very strong addition to the practice squad. However, unless one of Oliver or Jefferson is injured, the likelihood that he makes the final roster is quite low. At worst, this is a Smart depth move by general manager Brandon Beane.