Jaguars' defensive end Dawuane Smoot, who was initially drafted by the team in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, has had his fair share of ups and downs during his young career.
Smoot didn't get on the field much during his first two years in the league, primarily due to the depth the Jaguars had at the defensive end spot in 2017 and 2018. He failed to record a single sack during his first two years with the team, playing just 286 total pass rush snaps during that span. But in year three, the Jaguars got him on the field more on third down, and he produced in a big way, racking up six sacks.
Now, entering his fourth year in the league, Smoot has some lofty goals and has even taken on a leadership role inside of the Jaguars' defensive line room.
Earlier this week, Jaguars' defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich raved about Smoot's leadership ability. "Smoot is doing one heck of a job, not only that but in the classroom and on the field, he's becoming one heck of a leader," said Rebrovich. You know, sometimes you look at that room, and you say — you try to point out who the leaders are and you've got Abe [Abry Jones], and you've got Josh [Allen] and Timmy Jernigan has been a real good pleasure to come in here, a guy that's been in the league a bunch of years. But Dawuane Smoot is one heck of a leader in that room. People listen to him, and people understand what he can do and what he can bring. So yeah, we really enjoy what he's been doing from a defensive end standpoint and then what he gives us as value on third down."
Smoot also sees himself as a leader and is doing the best he can to help the young guys out. "I'm definitely comfortable I would say within my role like leadership wise and being able to help out all the guys, but I'm definitely not comfortable with any of my stats or like what I'm able to do on the field," Smoot told the media. "I'm trying to get more. I'm trying to go for more."
The Jaguars have seen a lot of flux at the defensive end spot this year. Calais Campbell is now in Baltimore, and Yannick Ngakoue still hasn't signed his franchise tender or showed up to training camp. With the potential opportunity for more reps, Smoot could see another uptick in his sack total in 2020.
The fourth-year defensive end recognizes the chance that he has in front of him and appears ready to take on the challenge of getting more reps on Sundays. "I'm trying to get double digits (sacks) and do whatever I can for the team and put some W's on the board. That's my goal at the end of the day."
His position coach has admired what he's seen during training camp so far. "Yeah, he's had substantial growth, Rebrovich commented. "I mean, you're talking about a guy that wants to hone in on his craft. He shows up; he's had probably a little chip on his shoulder since his first rookie year, until really transitioning into more of a role player. Especially in the third down stuff that we did from a year ago, and he's had one heck of a camp."
If Dawuane Smoot can handle a more significant workload and still show the same type of efficiency that he displayed in 2019, he'll be in for a coming-out party in year four. His sack percentage of just over 2% is certainly repeatable and respectable. But In order to eclipse the double-digit sack mark that he's aiming for, Smoot will need to raise his sack % a smidge and get significantly more pass down reps. It's a contract year for Smoot; historically, many players have had their most productive seasons when a new deal has been on the line. The Jaguars finished ninth in the NFL in team sacks in 2019 — in order to find themselves in the top ten yet again, they'll need Smoot to perform at a high level.
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