Telvin Smith came into the 2014 NFL draft with the expectations to be picked as early as the second round but those expectations were thrown out the window when Smith failed a drug test at the NFL combine. However everything happens for a reason, and this caused the super athletic linebacker to fall all the way to the 5th round where the Jaguars selected him.
Telvin Smith is now entering his second season with the Jags and many experts consider him to be one of the steals of the 2014 draft, he proved why in his rookie season.
Smith started off his rookie season fairly slow, as he only registered 40 tackles through week 11 but the switch flipped for Smith in his final 6 games. In those last 6 games, Smith had 64 tackles including 31 tackles in the last two games of the season.
He also received some recognition throughout the league as well, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 7 and he was also nominated for NFL Rookie of the week 3 times in the 2014 season.
Despite Smith making a name for himself around the NFL in just one season, there were many arguments that said he wont fair well in the NFL. A popular criticism for Smith was that he is too small to play the position and he may not be strong enough to be an every down linebacker. No one has ever questioned Smith’s athleticism, though. In 2014 he had the fastest 40 yard dash time out of all linebackers in the draft but some experts considered his build to be closer to a safety rather than a linebacker.
Telvin Smith had this to say about his size in an interview with Jaguars.com,
"“I don’t care if I step out there at 205 or whatever I step out there at,” he said. “If I step out there on the field, you best believe I’m going to make plays and give it all I’ve got. The size – I let other people talk about.”"
There was also a concern about Smith’s experience at the outside linebacker position as he was only a full time starter for one year at Florida State, some could say the odds weren’t in his favor but he quickly silenced his critics in his rookie season.
All those criticism’s are out the door now and Smith enters the 2015 season with a chance to be a big playmaker for the Jags defense. First off, Telvin Smith now has a defined role on the Jags defense, in his rookie season he had to fight and earn his starting role. He seems to be a lock at the starting weak outside linebacker spot for the Jags and this should boost his confidence going into the season.
Also he should be able to understand the Jaguars defensive system a lot more since he now has a year of experience under his belt. Offseason training with the Jags should give Smith the ability to get bigger and stronger which should allow him to be more durable.
I personally expect a big season out of Smith, he was an absolute tacking machine in his final 6 games of his rookie season and another offseason should help him improve in pass coverage as well.
Here is what Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell had to say about Smith,
"“If he plays like he did for 16 games like he did the last five, he will be a Pro Bowl-caliber player”"
My prediction for Smith is between 120 and 130 tackles, 4 sacks, and I would like to think at least 2 interceptions. Time will tell but 2015 could be the year that Telvin Smith takes the next step to becoming a great linebacker.
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