Breaking Burgundy's Film Analyst Paul Conner will be in the lab crunching film on college prospects up until the 2016 NFL Draft. He will be sharing his notes on each player he watches throughout the process.
College: Notre Dame
Weight: 235 lbs
Ben Standig's mock draft for CSNmidatlantic.com: No.20 to the Jets (1/15)
(Analysis from vs. USC, Clemson and Ohio State)
Strengths: If you're looking for athleticism at the linebacker position, Jaylon Smith is your flavor. This is a quick-twitch athlete whose range shows up in every game. His ability to pursue sideline to sideline is very good. Shadowing tight ends and running backs around the field is another strength. It hasn't been easy for many at those position groups to out run the fleet-footed linebacker. Smith is also instinctive on the field nd served as Notre Dame's traffic cop. He processes chunk information before and after the snap. Smith communicates with his defense to put people in the right position then processes run or pass, left or right, and pass patterns quickly.
Concerns: The severe knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl obviously hurt his draft stock. Some say Smith, considered a top 10 selection before the injury, won't be ready until the end of 2016. That's a major consideration for an NFL team, though most initial projections suggest he won't slip out of the first round. As for the football, Smith's strengths can also be considered his weakness. The nimble-footed LB can be light on his feet. He doesn't go around blocks, but can't always get through them. He's much better at pursuing laterally. At 235 lbs, he is going to have a harder time in the trenches at the NFL level. It's not for a lack of effort so there's a silver lining there.
If drafted by the Redskins: Washington has a fluid situation at inside linebacker. The Redskins went from starting two former 4th round picks in Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson to an undrafted free agent in Will Compton and mid-season pick-up Mason Foster. While Compton and Foster finished the season on a high note, the Redskins may look for some stability at the position. Ironically, Smith may have benefitted more in the 2-Gap scheme run by former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett where the defensive line would eat up blockers and let the linebackers eat up ball carriers. In Joe Barry's more 1-gap approach, Smith would have to deal with blockers getting to the second level and learning to fight through.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and a Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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