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Smoke Monday
NFL Draft

Smoke Monday: NFL Draft Prospect Interview

  • Justin Melo
  • April 22, 2022
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Auburn’s Smoke Monday is an intriguing safety prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound Monday is a physical defender that loves to stick his nose in the run game and possesses the skills necessary to thrive while playing a key role near the line of scrimmage. Monday’s athletic ability and functional movement skills could allow him to pull double duty as a strong coverage defender, too.

Monday recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network regarding his final two seasons at Auburn, his impressive performance and experience at the NFL Scouting Combine, which teams have shown interest in him throughout the process, and so much more.

JM: You really made the most of your final two seasons at Auburn. You stepped into a starting role in 2020 and never looked back. How do you reflect on your final two campaigns as a Tiger?

SM: I feel like I did really well as a starter. I put myself in positions to help my team out to the best of my ability. I tried my best to master our playbook and help put my teammates in good positions. I studied our playbook with terrific focus on a daily basis.

I was very focused on mastering our defense throughout my time as a starter. I wanted to be the type of defender that had a high football IQ every time I stepped onto the field. That’s really how I look back on my final two years at Auburn. I feel like I did a great job in all aspects honestly.

JM: When we turn the tape on, we see an aggressive safety that embraces the physical aspects of the game. How did you develop that mindset?

SM: I grew up as the youngest child in my household. I always had to step up. I’ve been doubted my entire life. I’ve always played the game with that aggression, with that chip on my shoulder. I’m an extremely passionate defender. That attitude and mindset come naturally for me.

I love how physical the game is. I’ve always embraced that aspect of it. That’s really why I play the sport, to begin with. I go out there every single weekend and show how physical I am. I love showing people that Smoke Monday is one of those guys you better watch out for. That’s just how I approach the game.

JM: Your aggression pops on tape. I thought you had a great NFL Scouting Combine. You ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, which was a great time given your imposing frame (6-foot-3, 199 pounds). Do you feel like you answered some questions about your athletic ability in Indianapolis?

SM: I definitely feel like I answered those questions at the combine. Going through this entire pre-draft training process, having worked on running the 40-yard dash every single day in training, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to run the 40 at the combine or not. I didn’t make that decision until literally the night before I was scheduled to perform. I sat down with my agent and we collectively came to that decision.

I’m not going to lie to you. It was a stressful process for me because I knew a lot of people wanted to see me run. I decided I wanted to show everybody what I was capable of. There was never a doubt in my mind that I could go out there and run a great time. If I had been a little lighter, I would have run an even faster time. I’m happy with my time. I definitely feel like I checked a lot of boxes in Indianapolis.

JM: You absolutely did just that. At this point in time, do you feel like you’re more developed as a run stopper down in the box, or in coverage?

SM: I’m definitely a run stopper first and foremost, but I’ll say this. I’ve been working on my skills in coverage. I’m well aware that I must continue working and improving in that area. I’m a dedicated player that tries my best to work on my craft every single day. I take advantage of it every day.

Coverage has been a big emphasis for me throughout this pre-draft process. I’m working on playing more man coverage, off-man coverage, and so on. For me, it’s just another road I need to cross. I’m a player that loves perfecting his craft, so I’m often my own harshest critic. I wasn’t asked to play man coverage with much consistency within our defense.

I’m excited to showcase more of my abilities in that area going forward. When I had those reps, I wanted better results. I know there are things I want to get better at as a player. As a player that loves to grow and is extremely in tune with himself, I know what I need to work on. I’m going to continue getting better every single day.

JM: Providing yourself with your own constructive feedback will take you a long way towards achieving the desired success. We appreciate your honest, personal evaluation. Who are some of the teams you’ve met with throughout the process, both virtually, and via Top 30 visits?

SM: I’ve met with the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, and so on. I’ve spoken with the Indianapolis Colts a few times. I’ve spoken with a bunch of teams via Zoom throughout the process. I’m blessed to find myself in the position I’m in today. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today. What kind of impact is Smoke Monday going to make at the next level?

SM: I’m definitely going to bring that physical mindset you studied on tape with me to the next level. Every time I step on that field, the opposition better know where Smoke Monday is because I’m bringing that energy and fire with me. I’m bringing that passion I have for the game with me on every single snap.

That aggression and temperament stays with me. That’s what you can expect from me on defense and every phase of special teams. Wherever my coaches want me to play, I’m going to approach it the only way I know how, and that’s with aggression, passion, and fire. That’s just who I am.

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Justin Melo