2016 Prospect Preview: LB Jaylon Smith, Notre DameTurron Davenport, FBGP Analyst ________
More and more athletes are playing positions other than just the skill positions. Linebackers are required to take on 300 pound offensive linemen and still be able to carry a wide receiver down the seam or on a crossing route. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith is one of the more impressive linebacker prospects in college football this season.
Smith anchored the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams while in high school. He also threw the shotput. Make no mistake, he is quite the athlete. The thing that is most impressive about Jaylon Smith is his lateral quickness and burst to the football. He is also powerful enough to blow up most lead blockers when they meet in any gap.
The best way to categorize Smith’s ability is to call him the total package. There isn’t much that he can’t do on the football field. Let’s take a look at some of the things that he does very well.
Here is a running play that is flowing to the opposite side of the field. The right tackle (71) is assigned to cutoff Smith on the backside of the play but Smith is too fast. Smith shows a great amount of quickness and makes the tackle behind the line of scrimmage for a loss.
Notice the burst to the ball carrier in this clip against Florida State.
Jaylon Smith is also outstanding when it comes to taking on blocks and still making the tackle. Notice how he makes the first punch against the offensive lineman. Smith gives up plenty of pounds to the lineman but takes him on and makes the tackle.
Defensive coordinators will take advantage of Smith’s athleticism by sending him on the blitz from the outside at times. He is an instinctive player. Here he does a very good job of recognizing what is happening. He times his jump and knocks the ball down, preventing a completion to the receiver in the flats.
Smith can also blitz the interior gaps with success. Here he is sent on a cross dog blitz and it is timed to perfection. Smith loops inside but hugs the outside hip of his fellow linebacker and has a free path to the quarterback. The result is a rushed throw and an incompletion in the red zone.
Running with a receiver is no real problem for Jaylon Smith. Here the receiver is running a crossing route and Smith stays with him stride for stride. The quarterback tries to squeeze it in to the receiver but Smith does a great job of getting himself in position to break up the pass with his left hand.
The above videos are only a few of the many that make Jaylon Smith one of the best linebacker prospects. He is capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and would be a Navarro Bowman like inside linebacker in an NFL 3-4 scheme.