No. 1 Jaguars player who could get bumped down: Dawuane Smoot, DE
After Myles Jack’s departure earlier this year, defensive end Dawuane Smoot became the sole remaining member of the Jaguars’ 2017 Sacksonville defense. He was a rookie at the time and although he didn’t start a single game nor log a single sack, it’s worth noting that he’s one of the few Jags players that have suited up for Doug Marrone, Urban Meyer, and soon Doug Pederson.
Smoot was set to become a free agent last year but the Jaguars gave him a two-year, $14 million contract to stay put. That investment showed that the team’s brass saw the former Fighting Illini not as a backup but as a starter. Smoot didn’t disappoint and went on to start a career-high 10 games and log six sacks, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble.
Even though Smoot will once again be an important cog in Jacksonville’s defense, he will lose playing time to rookie Travon Walker, who will get plenty of snaps by virtue of having been the first overall pick in this year’s selection meeting. But that’s not it. Smoot could also see a decreased role due to the arrival of former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arden Key, who can line up anywhere across the defensive line but might mostly see time as an outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell’s 3-4 scheme.
Smoot has been a steady contributor throughout his tenure in Jacksonville but now that the Jaguars have fortified their front seven, he will probably have a decreased role, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fewer snaps means he and other players will stay fresh longer. This could in turn increase their productivity, so don’t be surprised if Smoot has better numbers even if he plays less.