Matt House reveals why Jaguars DL Maason Smith is in position to succeed

• Matt House was Jaguars DL Maason Smith's DC at LSU.

• House recently discussed the things that make Smith great.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen talks with Jaguars defensive lineman Maason
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen talks with Jaguars defensive lineman Maason / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY

The Jacksonville Jaguars got a blank stare when they selected defensive tackle Maason Smith with the 48th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. At the time, cornerback was a more pressing need, but the Jags didn't want to pass up on Smith's immense talent. Recent comments by linebackers coach Matt House should make fans feel better about the pick.

House met with the local media at Jaguars rookie minicamp. He talked about the traits that helped Smith thrive at the college level.

"Hard worker, obviously he's got measurable. He's a long guy but really likes to play practices hard. Liek I said, he's a sponge," House said. "[When] Coach Nielsen gets his hands on coach [Jeremy] Garrett, his best days are ahead of him."

House also touched on Smith's health. He tore his ACL in 2022 and was still recovering last year. House says that Smith looked like his old self toward the end of 2023.

"It wasn't till the latter half of the season, maybe even into the latter quarter of the season. But coming back from that injury that takes a while and he missed some time and training camp. But when we first got there, he was unblockable the first spring and even into the first game before he got hurt."

Smith appeared in 12 games in 2023, logging 4.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. Since he has not been at full strength since 2021, it's hard to make a projection for next season but House's comments should get Jaguars fans excited. Here's House's full exchange with the media, via 1010 XL.

The Jaguars might've gotten great value in Maason Smith

Having coached him at LSU the past two seasons, Matt House has firsthand knowledge of Maason Smith. You could make the case that he's biased because he was his defensive coordinator but the truth is that House has nothing to gain from hyping him up. It's also worth noting that Jacksonville might've gotten great value.

Byron Murphy II was arguably the best defensive tackle of the draft, and he was rightly the first one taken, going to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 16. However, all defensive tackles picked after him and before Smith come with question marks.

Ruke Orhorhoro seemed to be a reach at No. 35. With the following pick, the Washington Commanders selected Jer'zhan Newton. It's been since learned that he will need foot surgery, so his availability for 2024 might be in question. At No. 38, the Tennessee Titans took T'Vondre Sweat who may have contiditioning issues, and was arrested for driving while intoxicated days before the draft.

Last but not least is Braden Fiske, who went to the Los Angeles Rams at no. 39. Before the NFL Scouting Combine, Fiske was projected to go in the third or fourth round but saw his draft sock soar after an impressive athletic showing at the underwear Olympics.

This isn't to say that Smith is better than any of these players but like him, they all come with question marks, and Smith's biggest "red flag" is that he hasn't been able to fully show what he can do since 2021.

Ultimately, the Jaguars drafted Maason Smith because they think he can become a difference-maker. If he does, there will no longer be complaints about them not taking a cornerback early.

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