During draft week, the Jaguars were busy selecting nine rookies during the 2021 NFL Draft and adding six undrafted free agents afterward. So far, I've broken down quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, cornerback Tyson Campbell, offensive tackle Walker Little, safety Andre Cisco, and defensive tackle Jay Tufele.
Today, we'll be looking at the Jaguars' second fourth-round pick, UAB EDGE Jordan Smith. The Jaguars traded picks 130, 170, and 249 overall to the Rams in exchange for 121 and 209 to select Smith. The 6'6", 255-pound edge defender is 23 years old. Smith enrolled at Florida out of high school as a four-star recruit and redshirted in 2016. He was involved in the credit card scandal and never played a down for the Gators. After getting in trouble, he went the JUCO route and performed well at Butler CC, earning second-team all-conference honors. He then transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he found plenty of on-field success and cleaned up his act off it. Smith was a Blazer for two seasons, registering 102 pressures, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks in 21 games.
Strengths: Smith possesses rare length allowing him to engulf ball carriers. That length also aids in his block shedding. He covers ground quickly thanks to long strides and arm length. Smith's motor runs hot. Untapped strength and growth in his frame. He has good flexibility for his size. Sometimes displayed pass rush moves and plan. Pass rush moves include a deadly rip and dip and a compact spin move. Smith hustles to the whistle and finishes plays strong. He possesses good explosiveness and short-area burst.
Weaknesses: His awareness appears to be lacking in many areas. His play recognition, especially when a diagnosis is required, leaves much to be desired. While he has the frame to get stronger, he'll need to do so. Smith is inconsistent at best when it comes to setting the edge. His quicknesses and agility leave a bit to be desired and sometimes leaves him grasping at air. Pass rush moves and plan need to appear with more consistency.
Fit with the Jaguars: Smith is a project for Joe Cullen and the Jaguars' defensive coaching staff. Urban Meyer admitted as much in his press conference after the pick. But the Jaguars felt Smith represented more upside than the other day three pass rushers. They'll likely try to develop him into a situational pass rusher early on in his career. He has flashed the ability to play in shallow zones in the flat, which should help him as a multi-front DE/OLB. Smith didn't play for more than two seasons at any of his stops in college, so getting in a system for a prolonged period of time could help his development.
Final Thoughts: I don't blame the Jaguars for being intrigued by Smith's raw traits and pass rush ability. His length shows up in every game, allowing him to make splash plays. But the lowlights, and there are many, proved costly at UAB, often leading to chunk plays for the opposing offense. The fact that the Jaguars traded up to land Smith when there were better, more polished athletes at the position, including Quincy Roche, Janarius Robinson, and Jonathon Cooper available, remains a head-scratcher for me. But my best guess here is that while Roche, Robinson, and Cooper all have higher floors than Smith, they might not have the game-wrecking upside that Smith has, thanks to his length and growth potential. With Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chaisson, and Dawuane Smoot in the fold, the Jaguars didn't necessarily need a day one impact edge rusher, so a developmental guy is understandable from that perspective. Still, electing to trade up for Smith with other quality edge rushing options available seems like a bit of a reach.
Follow Jordan on Twitter.