The Baltimore Ravens decision to sign Daryl Smith this offseason was an excellent one, and the ILB is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves around the league as one of the better inside linebackers in the game. Smith spent nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the 31-year-old was easily one of the most underrated players in the league due to the lack of press he received. There were a couple of seasons in which Smith was one of the best linebackers in the league in Jacksonville, but he simply never received enough attention to be regarded as that kind of a player.
Now, the eyeballs are on him with the Baltimore Ravens, and he is finally starting to get some of the recognition he deserves. This piece isn’t going to do any Ray Lewis vs. Daryl Smith “replacement” kind of comparisons, because that’s just stupid. Lewis was in his last season in the league in 2012, and we can’t quantify how his intangibles helped the team. It’s also not fair to compare a legend to Smith, because Lewis no longer played like a legend last year, but his impact on the game can’t be underrated by comparing him to a current player who plays the game differently.
While his run defense could stand to improve, Daryl Smith has made a huge impact in the passing game. He’s been one of the best blitzing interior linebackers this season with 1.5 sacks and three QB hits in total, but it has been his impact in coverage that has really separated him. With seven passes defended, Smith leads all linebackers in that statistic and has one of the top 15 PDs totals in the NFL. Seven of those pass break-ups have been interceptions, and he has done an excellent job in coverage.
All has not been great for Smith, because he did have a sloppy game against the Buffalo Bills and has been beaten up against the run a few times this season. However, Smith has been solid in the middle of the Baltimore Ravens defense, and he’s still one of the better all-around linebackers in the game.