"Derek Smith was a disaster for the Chargers this season. He started the first four games in place of Stephen Cooper, who was suspended at the time, and Smith was a huge liability in the middle of the defense. At 33, he no longer has the lateral quickness to be effective at his position. He played the left inside linebacker slot in San Diego's 3-4 defense and -- unless he was kept completely clean by the linemen in front of him -- he seemed incapable of disengaging from blocks and making a play.
" Smith also struggled badly in pass defense, showing an inabilility to play in space and poor recognition skills.
"There are some things he can still bring to a team. He is an intelligent, blue-collar player who will always line up in the right position and help his teammates to do the same. He is also a sound tackler on the few occasions he finds himself in position to make a play.
"Because Smith is not a good special teams player, he fell straight from the starting lineup to the inactive list when Cooper returned from suspension. This means, at this point in his career, his only contributions will come as an emergency fill-in and a positive clubhouse presence."