By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
2:16 PM EDT, June 5, 2013
The Ravens and free-agent linebacker Daryl Smith have been batting their eyelashes at each other in recent days, according to my colleague Aaron Wilson. So if they consummate this thing, what can the Ravens expect?
It depends on whether the groin injury that limited the former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker to just two games in 2012 is a minor thing or a lingering issue for a 31-year-old who plays a physically punishing position.
Smith wasn’t activated from injured reserve last season until it was already lost for the Jaguars and they were jostling for draft positioning. He started Jacksonville’s final two games, making six tackles in a pair of losses.
But before his lost 2012 season, Smith was one of the NFL’s most underrated linebackers. Call him the London Fletcher of the AFC.
Smith has never been selected to the Pro Bowl, but he has made 678 tackles over nine seasons with 21.5 sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles. He totaled 311 tackles from 2009 to 2011.
In his last healthy season, in 2011, Smith had a career-high 107 tackles. In a stunning 12-7 Monday night upset over the Ravens that season, Smith had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Smith had played all three linebacker positions in Jacksonville’s 4-3 defense, but he has mostly been a strong-side linebacker in recent seasons. If he joined the Ravens, he would play inside.
As you know, there has been a lot of turnover and turmoil at that position here in Baltimore. Ray Lewis retired and Dannell Ellerbe left. Jameel McClain is trying to return from a major neck injury. The Ravens signed Rolando McClain, but he has since retired to try to get his turbulent personal life in order. Arthur Brown was drafted in the second round, but he had to have sports hernia surgery.
If signed, Smith would bolster the depth at a depleted position.
If healthy, he might provide something they didn’t have in 2012.
Smith fared well in coverage when he was with the Jaguars and could play in passing situations. Often asked to track tight ends or a back, Smith received a plus-12.2 grade in pass coverage from Pro Football Focus. For comparison sake, Brendon Ayanbadejo was the only Ravens inside linebacker with a positive pass coverage grade in 2012, and he was a plus-2.6 in limited snaps.
In 2011, Smith received positive grades from Pro Football Focus across the board in run defense, pass rush and pass coverage. Only Denver Broncos Pro Bowler Von Miller received a higher overall grade among 4-3 outside linebackers.
Like I said, there are some ifs in play here. He has to sign first (we can assume he will be relatively inexpensive) and be good to go physically (we’ll see about that), but Smith could be a nice addition.
So why not go ahead and consummate this thing, fellas?
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