While Leonard Fournette is understandably garnering most of the headlines, the Jaguars should have another high-profile rookie in Dawuane Smoot.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are finally at the point where they aren’t expecting all of their newly added rookies to contribute right away and that is a good thing.
Back in the early days of the David Caldwell era, the Jaguars were so talent-poor that they needed guys like 6th round pick Josh Evans and 7th round pick Demetrius McCray to come in and play important snaps.
Now, the Jaguars have enough talent in their starting lineup to allow their rookies time to sit and learn before contributing.
This year, we’ll be seeing plenty of first round pick Leonard Fournette and second round pick Cam Robinson (thanks Branden Albert!) as both will hold starting spots immediately. After those guys however, it becomes less clear which rookies will see the field.
One guy who could potentially be productive right away is third round pick Dawuane Smoot.
Projected as a high first round pick before the 2016 college season, Smoot saw his draft stock falter a bit last year. The Jaguars were able to nab him in the third round and throw him into a crowded defensive line room, but Smoot will absolutely have an opportunity to show his worth this preseason.
William Moy over at Pro Football Focus agrees, as he listed Smoot as the “rookie to watch” for the Jacksonville Jaguars this preseason.
"Dawuane Smoot – Smoot’s 53 total pressures last season ranked third among draft-eligible Big Ten defenders. With a strong camp he’s got a shot at earning significant playing time alongside Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson as Jacksonville figures out their edge rotation."
Smoot was initially cast as Calais Campbell’s backup at the strongside end position but now it looks like he’ll have a chance to compete for playing time at both edge spots. With Dante Fowler Jr. content to pile up the world record for traffic citations, Smoot has an opening to take advantage and show the coaching staff he has the ability to produce along the edge.