When the third round of the NFL Draft took place a couple weeks back there were some large names still on the board that had Jaguars fans getting excited. The likes of Dan Feeney, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, etc. were players who most people either wanted or expected once all of the above fell to them at 68th overall. To much surprise, none of them were the target. Instead, the Jags took Dawuane Smoot out of Illinois.
Dawuane Smoot Could Have Large Role For Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars may have found a real gem in Dawaune Smoot at the top of the third round. He was on the radar of a lot of draft analysts last summer and earlier in this past college football season. Some had Smoot pegged as high as a top ten pick, but most saw him somewhere in the first round or second round. He was coming off a tremendous junior year compiling seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss and looking straight up dominant much of the time. Fast forward to senior year and it was pretty underwhelming considering what most expected. Finishing his senior year with five sacks and 15 tackles for loss but his presence wasn’t being felt quite as much.
There are ultimately no excuses and he fell to the third round for a reason. But he ended up playing in a different scheme being asked to do different things while playing at a much lighter weight this past season. During his junior year, he played in the 260-270 pound range whereas his senior year he played at or slightly below 250. Lovie Smith is now at Illinois and changed up a lot of things. So while the above wasn’t ideal for Smoot, he did get to learn from a coach who has an NFL pedigree and likely got him more accustomed to the NFL than most.
The Jaguars seem to think they know what they want to do with him and he’s already planning on bulking up back to normal weight in the 270 range. The Jaguars plan to deploy him at the five-technique but they also plan on running more six-technique this season which is absolutely perfect for a player of Smoot’s skill set. Dave Caldwell also said that he can play some weak side end where Yannick Ngakoue plays, so he should get plenty of reps. The Jaguars figure to slide Calais Campbell inside on third downs so the end opposite Ngakoue is there for the taking.
This defensive unit has a lot of talent up and down the depth chart, so Smoot getting in the lineup won’t be a cakewalk nor should it be for a rookie year player. If they get him back to his playing weight of his junior year and ask him to do what he excels at instead of like what Illinois did to him last year, he could play a big role in this defense from the early going. Sitting behind and learning from a guy like Campbell who Smoot likely will try to replicate should be an ideal situation for the rookie as well.