The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't met with any cornerback prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft even though it's currently one of their biggest needs. However, that will change Thursday when they host South Carolina's Cam Smith.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Smith will meet with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday and fly to Jacksonville for a pre-draft visit Thursday. A four-star recruit out of high school, the South Carolina native is one of the top cornerback prospects in this year's class,
At 6'1", Smith has the speed to keep up with following opposing wide receivers and the strength to jam them at the line of scrimmage. His aggressive style of play can lead to penalties but that's something that can refine in the pros. Similarly, he needs to work on wrapping up opponents in run support and not diving at their feet. Nevertheless, Joe Marino of The Draft Network believes he has "the makings of a starting cornerback in the NFL".
One thing that makes Smith an appealing option for the Jaguars at No. 24 is his flexibility to line up inside and outside. The Jaguars have a solid cornerback tandem in Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell but they need a nickel to round out their starting unit. Last season, Smith played a bit over one-third of his snaps in the slot, so he could get significant playing time inside in Jacksonville.
Another reason the Jaguars should consider taking the 2021 All-SEC Second Team in Round 1 is his ability to create plays. Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus praises him for registering 16 passes defensed and six interceptions on 94 career targets at South Carolina. Moreover, Smith is No. 3 in PFF's 2023 cornerback rankings.
The Jacksonville Jaguars shouldn't pass on Cam Smith in the 2023 NFL Draft
Although the Jaguars' roster doesn't have any glaring weaknesses, they need to bolster a handful of position groups, including cornerback, tight end, offensive tackle, and pass-rusher. Working in their favor is that there are several ways they could approach the draft and given the depth of the tight end and cornerback classes, they can afford to wait to address both units.
Having said that, general manager Trent Baalke shouldn't pass up the chance to round out the cornerback group, especially if Cam Smith or any of the other top prospects at the position are available. While it's true that this year's draft is stacked with cornerback talent, the Jaguars can't pass on the position if they think they can land an impact player in the first round.
At this point, it's hard to see Smith falling to the second round, which is why the Jaguars should pick him at No. 24 if they think he's the best player available. Then again, there will most likely be other intriguing prospects on the board when they're on the clock, so it might not be an easy decision for the front office.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will have their fair share of options in Round 1, including Cam Smith. Nobody can predict who will be the pick at No. 24 but nobody will revolt if he ends up getting the nod.