Jacquies Smith Celebrates After Sacking Mark Sanchez In A 2015 Game Against Philadelphia.
Jacquies Smith was one of the most difficult evaluations I’ve ever done, and for several reasons. First and foremost, the 27-year-old defensive end has played just eight defensive snaps since the beginning of the 2016 season.
After a 2015 campaign in which he recorded seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and fifteen tackles through twelve games, Smith was lost for all of 2016 when he tore his right ACL in week one… on a special teams play.
Smith began training camp this year on the PUP list after suffering a ‘setback’ which required another procedure to be performed on his knee. After missing Tampa’s offseason program, he only played a single series against the Giants before being cut four days later. He now finds himself as the most recent addition to a Detroit defensive line that’s been a revolving door recently.
Basically, this is a player who hasn’t played a full game of football in nearly two years, and one who has a significant injury to be concerned about, to boot. This makes projecting him very difficult. I watched his seven snaps in week four against the Giants and it looked as if he’d lost a step. However, that was coming off a week in which he was listed as questionable with an illness.
It could be reasonably attributed to several things: rust, his knee, a lack of conditioning due to the illness, or some combination thereof. To complicate matters, seven plays is a very small sample size, so that may not be trustworthy in and of itself.
Therefore, this evaluation is based on his 2015 play, but Jacquies Smith may not be the same player he once was.
|Games Played||Games Started||Games Won||Winning %||Positions Started||Captain|
|INJURIES||2017: illness (Week 3, DNP), second procedure on his right knee (offseason)
2016: torn ACL, right knee (Week 1, missed fifteen games on IR)
2015: ankle (Weeks 9-11, missed two games), hamstring (Weeks 13-15, missed two games)
|KEY STATS||2015: 546 defensive snaps (49.6%), 7 sacks, 15 tackles, 3 FF, 3 FR, 1 PD, 1 defensive TD
2014: 455 defensive snaps (41.1%), 6.5 sacks, 13 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 PD
|TAPES VIEWED||2017: 10/01 vs. NYG
2015: 9/27 at HOU, 10/25 at WAS, 11/22 at PHI, 11/29 at IND, 12/17 at STL
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
|6020||262 lbs.||4.81s||1.69||32″||9″||31.5″||7.25s||4.31s||111″||21 reps|
One of the most important components of defensive line play is the ability to get upfield quickly against both the run and the pass, which Smith does well by using good acceleration and solid straight-line speed. Another unappreciated aspect of the position is the diagnosis of run blocking schemes. Smith quickly recognizes what types of blocks opposing linemen are executing, and he also has the peripheral vision to identify pullers hunting him down. When he gets to the point of attack, he has quick, active hands that he uses to combat blockers. He plays longer than his size and does a solid job of stacking blockers to set the edge. He’s also a disciplined defender that honors his gap responsibilities well.
As a pass rusher, Smith does a good job of bending the corner. He uses his hands well en route to the quarterback, and demonstrates good timing and solid pop when punching tackles. Furthermore, he’s skilled at using his hands to keep pass protectors away from his frame. He has a decent arsenal of pass rush moves at his disposal, and is particularly effective at utilizing rips and long-arm techniques. When he can’t get to the quarterback, he uses good eye discipline to throw his hands into passing lanes. When he does get there, he finishes well.
Smith is an alert player who was credited with three fumble recoveries in 2015. However, he had another one called back due to penalty against Houston. His motor runs hot in pursuit when he smells blood and he’s an effective tackler that looks to punch the ball out upon his arrival. And even though he missed four games in 2015, he proved to be physically tough by playing through those nagging injuries.
While Smith flashes the ability to key the snap and fire off quickly, he doesn’t do it consistently, which affects his ability to play fast and impact plays.
His play strength is adequate at the point of attack, but he has issues rooting against powerful offensive linemen and struggles to move blockers in the run game. He also has short arms (32”) and labors to break free of longer-limbed players.
Furthermore, his change of direction ability is below average and he doesn’t have the optimal suddenness to cut back inside when rushing the passer. And while his rip move is effective, he lacks a go-to, winning counter move. He also isn’t a great threat to convert speed-to-power and bull rush offensive linemen.
The pursuit angles he takes as a free runner and in space need fine-tuning, and he struggles to throttle down and play with ideal agility through traffic. Lastly, he could stand to give more effort on plays in which the ball isn’t in his immediate area.
Jacquies Smith: Grades and Final Projection
Before he got hurt, Jacquies Smith projected as a starting weak-side 5-tech in a 4-man front that a team could win with. He demonstrated several intriguing traits in 2015, but it remains to be seen what he’ll be for the Detroit Lions. Either the team was comfortable with his medicals, or they’re simply taking a flier on a once-promising player.
If Smith can return to form, he’ll be a welcomed addition to a defensive line corps that’s been decimated by injuries. But, between an ACL tear and 20-plus months without playing a full regular season game, there’s substantial cause for concern. Smith may take some time to re-acclimate to the game, so how patient the team is will be a factor.