It may be tough to no longer see long-time Jaguar Daryl Smith in black and teal anymore, but he’s bound to get some attention from other teams if the Jags can’t make a deal with him early in free agency. Smith has quietly been the best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL for years. Maybe it’s his humility or maybe it’s the fact that he plays in Jacksonville, but the man remains a relative unknown.
But now Pro Football Focus has him atop their list of available linebackers. Here’s what they have to say about Smith:
This long-time Jacksonville Jaguar hasn’t gotten as much attention as he deserves since joining the league in 2004. He spent nearly all of the 2012 season injured and played only in the last two games. Prior to that he was the standard for 4-3 outside linebackers. In 2011 he finished third in Run Stop Percentage at 10.6%, in Pass Rushing Productivity (for those with at least 50 pass rushes) at 13.0, and in Yards per Coverage Snap at 0.67. Many of the free agent linebackers available are good at one or two of those things, but he is the rare talent who can do it all. He will be 31 in a month, so his best football might be behind him, but even if he can’t reach the same heights he once did, he can still be a great upgrade for most teams.
That pretty much sums it all up. I’m of the thinking that Smith still has some good years in front of him and is worth whatever money he wants. The Jags obviously don’t have a suitable replacement on their roster and with linebacker not exactly the deepest position in the draft, it makes sense to bring Smith back for 2013 and beyond. If anything else, this man is the heart and soul of the defense, if not the team. If Ray Lewis can inspire the Ravens to the Super Bowl, Smith has a shot to do the same in Jacksonville.
Lord knows we needed him in 2012.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims