Next on the list for our Jacksonville Jaguars player profile series is a player who made a serious impact as a rookie, linebacker Telvin Smith.
Telvin Smith attended Lowndes High School in Valdosta Georgia, his elite speed at the linebacker position allowed him to help lead his team to one state championship and he racked up over 200 tackles in his three years at the varsity level. Smith spent all four years of his college career at Florida State university. He appeared in all 14 games in his first year with Florida State but he only registered 18 tackles including one sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss. After spending some time getting experience at the linebacker position, Smith saw his playing time increase in his sophomore season. He posted career highs in sacks with three and pass deflections with four in his second season. Smith was also able to register 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one interception.
Despite that strong performance, Smith still couldn’t crack the starting lineup in his junior season he saw the field much more and his numbers reflected that. He spent time at the middle linebacker position and he took advantage of the opportunity by posting a career high in tackles for a loss with 9.5. Smith went on to post 64 total tackles, one sack, three pass deflections, and one forced fumble in 2012. Florida State was very successful that season as well, finishing with a 12 and 2 record and Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois.
Telvin Smith entered his final season at Florida State in a much different situation than in years past. He finally earned a starting spot at the weak side linebacker position and this was his last year to show his worth to NFL scouts and coaches. Smith showed that he had the ability to play at the next level by leading Florida State in tackles with a total of 90. He also tied his career high in tackles for a loss with 9.5, he added two sacks and four pass deflections to his 2013 totals as well. What was most impressive for Telvin Smith in his senior season was his play making ability. He racked up three interceptions in his final season and two of them were good for touchdowns. His 147 interception yards was good enough to lead the ACC and he helped lead his team a perfect undefeated season and a national championship.
Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles linebacker Telvin Smith (22) at a press conference after the 2014 BCS National Championship game against the Auburn Tigers at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the 2014 NFL draft Telvin Smith faced a big question, his talent was clear but many experts said he lacked the ideal weight to play the linebacker position in the NFL. Smith reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Combine and his right shoulder injury that caused him not to participate in the bench press led to him sliding in the 2014 draft. However his speed made him an interesting prospect, he led all linebackers at the combine by posting a 4.52 40 yard dash time and his aggressive playing style showed he had the potential to be an impact player.
Telvin Smith fell all the way to the 5th round to the Jacksonville Jaguars and some considered him to be the steal of the draft. Smith proved in his rookie season that his size wasn’t an issue and that he could be a fantastic player in the future.
He started off his rookie in solid fashion, racking up 40 tackles through the first 11 weeks of the regular season. Smith started to receive more playing time towards the back end of the season and he fully took advantage of the opportunity. In the final six games of the regular season Telvin Smith stuffed the stat sheet, racking up 64 tackles, including an extremely impressive 31 tackles in the last two games of the season. Smith’s hard work was noticed by the NFL as he was named the AFC defensive player of the week in Week 7 where his first career interception and forced fumble helped the Jaguars to a victory. On top of that award, Smith was also nominated for NFL rookie of the week 3 times and his 104 tackles were good for the third highest among all rookies.
Telvin Smith now enters his second season in the NFL with pretty big expectations, he is slotted to be a starting outside linebacker for the Jaguars and he will be expected to build off his impressive rookie season. Smith has been busy training this off season and he reportedly has gained a little bit more weight. This should bode well for Smith, his athleticism at his position is already extremely rare and adding more muscle should help him shed blocks easier. The addition of Julius Thomas should also help improve Smith’s ability in coverage because they will spend a fair amount of time facing each other in practice. Fans will soon find out if Telvin Smith will suffer from a sophomore slump or turn into a breakout player in 2015, my guess is that Smith earns a reputation as an exemplary outside linebacker in his second season.
Be on the lookout for our next player profile featuring Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, coming soon!
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