Jaguars trade up, add UAB’s Jordan Smith to linebacker corps

After taking quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars have mainly focused on fortifying their defense in the three following rounds. They selected USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the first pick of the fourth round and traded up to take Smith with the 121st overall pick.

A four-star recruit out of high school, Smith committed to Florida but never saw the field for the Gators, as he redshirted in 2016 and was suspended in 2017 for partaking in a credit card scandal. In 2018, he enrolled at Butler Community College, where he logged 77 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, and 11 sacks. He then transferred to UAB in 2019, where he played for two years.

At UAB, Smith appeared in 21 games and amassed 89 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles. Although he’s a bit rough around the edges and will have to bulk up in the NFL, the Georgia native can be an effective pass-rusher and can also drop in coverage.

The Jaguars traded picks 130, 170, and 249 to the Los Angeles Rams and got the 121st overall pick, which they used on Smith and the 209th overall. Once they took Jordan, they had two selections left in the draft, the 145th overall, which they used on tight end Luke Farrell and 209th.

How does Jordan Smith fit the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebacker corps?

The Jaguars rounded out their linebacker corps this offseason when they signed Damien Wilson. The 2015 fourth-round pick joined a group that included Myles Jack and Joe Schobert, so linebacker wasn’t a pressing need in the draft. However, the team’s brass still needed to add depth at the position, and they’ve done that with the Jordan pick.

Since the Jags already has three starting linebackers, the coaching staff will have the chance to groom Jordan, who has the potential to become a solid starter down the road. At worst, the UAB product will compete for snaps on special teams but he posses the kind of versatility defensive coordinator Joe Cullen will need to implement his scheme in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020. They have taking aggressive steps to change that this offseason. Even if Jordan doesn’t have a prominent role at first, he should still contribute one way or another.