Antonio Smith knows what Wade Phillips and Bill Kollar want from their defensive ends -- and his skill set is a perfect match for what they expect from five-technique end.
So when the Raiders released him after a year working at defensive tackle in their 4-3 scheme, it was no surprise that the Broncos quickly showed their interest and pounced.
Smith was one of the best pass-rushing 3-4 ends in recent years, with 18.5 sacks in three seasons (2011-13) when Phillips was Houston's defensive coordinator. In that span, he was credited with 32 quarterback hits and 89 quarterback hurries by ProFootballFocus.com; during those years, only Arizona's Calais Campbell and Houston's J.J. Watt had more hits and pressures among 3-4 ends.
His value extends to the locker room, where the 33-year-old is considered one of the better leaders at his position. That will help the entire front seven as his new teammates turn to him to help adapt to Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
Like Vance Walker, Smith is likely to be a rotational defensive end behind Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, both of whom played extensively in hybrid tackle/end roles in last year's 4-3 scheme. Their size, skill set and chemistry working off each other to generate pressure with stunts and twists ensures they will have prominent roles.
But to make the defense work, the Broncos needed a quality four-man rotation. With Smith aboard, they appear to be set, and are not boxed into reaching for a 3-4 defensive end in the draft. They might still add one under the "best player available" philosophy, and with the contracts of Jackson and Wolfe expiring after 2015, there will be some long-term planning involved with any draft selection. But relative to the 2015 season, defensive end is no longer a position of urgent need.
And because the Raiders released Smith this week, he was a street free agent, and his acquisition does not factor into the calculation of compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft. That meant there was no reason to stall in adding Smith.
Take a look through the career of new Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith.