Jaguars: Former linebacker named team’s best value draft pick

Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t been good at drafting over the last ten years. Although they’ve had a few hits, they haven’t been enough to make up for their misses. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see former general manager David Caldwell lose his job last year.

Caldwell didn’t have much success finding talent in the first rounds but had a solid track record in the later rounds. Also, he had a penchant for acquiring undrafted free agents, including last year’s rookie sensation James Robinson, who went on to make NFL history.

Back in 2014, Caldwell used a fifth-round selection on linebacker Telvin Smith, who would quickly establish himself as a key cog on their defense. Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus recently recognized the Florida State product as the Jags’ best value draft pick since  2006.

Renner points out that Smith was “instrumental in overhauling the long-standing norm for the linebacker position. He notes that the former Seminole was part of the first strain of linebackers that are built like safeties. Renner goes on to say that Smith logged 50-plus defensive stops over his five-year career before retiring after the 2018 season.

Telvin Smith is a big ‘What-if’ for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Smith was a difference-maker right off the bat. In his rookie campaign, he appeared in all 16 games and had 104 total tackles, nine tackles for a loss, four passes defensed, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception. Despite the fact that he made the Pro Bowl once, he logged similar numbers throughout his career.

Not long ago, Smith was recently on the news for a couple of reasons. Earlier this year, he posted a cryptic message on social media that simply said, “I think it’s time”. It’s unclear what he meant, as there was no follow-up. He could have been talking about renewing his library card, or maybe it was time to join a reading club. There’s a chance he was considering resuming his NFL career. The Jaguars’ defense ranked 21st after Smith retired and he would probably have given the unit a boost.

Smith is still 30 and he didn’t suffer major injuries over his NFL career, so he might still have plenty of gas on the tank. However, there may not be room for him on the Jaguars’ linebacker corps. The team is switching to a 3-4 defense, and it looks like they are set at the position. If he decides to unretire, he might need to play somewhere else. More recently, Smith pleaded no contest to child abuse charges and was given three year’s probation.

Smith may eventually share his reasons for hanging the cleats early. For the time being, the Jaguars have spent the offseason fortifying the defense. Despite the fact that there is still plenty of work left to do, the unit looks in better shape than it did one year ago, so there’s no longer a need for Smith. Had the linebacker not retired, he could still have a role with the team but the Jags have moved on.

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