Daryl Smith makes a tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars - Al Messerschmidt
The Giants have said they need better linebacker play in 2013. Could free-agent Daryl Smith be a player who helps them get it?
New York Giants' general manager Jerry was forthright at the end of the 2012 season that the team needed better play from its linebackers in 2013. At that time he said "I do think we have to have better linebacker play moving forward."
The Giants began re-structuring their linebacking corps by releasing veteran weak-side linebacker Michael Boley. They are expected to return Mathias Kiwanuka to full-time defensive end duty.
Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and the Giants' staff will likely be paying close attention to the linebackers working out at the 2013 NFL combine. Reese will also likely be pouring over the available free-agent linebackers to see if any of them could help the Giants.
Might Daryl Smith, a veteran linebacker from the Jacksonville Jaguars be one of the players Reese considers in free agency?
Smith, who turns 31 next month, is a nine-year veteran who is Jacksonville's all-time leading tackler. He played only two games last season due to a severe groin injury that required surgery and landed him on IR. In 2011, he had 107 tackles and 3.5 quarterback sacks.
Alfie Crow of SB Nation's Jaguars web site, Big Cat Country, offered this assessment of Smith:
Daryl Smith has been the Jaguars best overall linebacker for many seasons and will be a tough loss if he's allowed to walk in free agency, but the team is rebuilding and a 31-year-old linebacker may not be in the plans. Smith is a "do everything" three-down linebacker who has played and started at all three spots in a 4-3 defense and can play inside linebacker in a 3-4. He's good in coverage, a sound tackler, usually doesn't make mistakes in run game assignments, and is an underrated pass rusher when asked to blitz. I would expect there to be a lot of interest in Smith on the free agent market, despite the fact that he missed all but two games last season with a groin injury he suffered in training camp which required surgery to fix. As long as Smith checks out medically, which I expect he would, he would be a great fit on an established 4-3 team looking for a starter. Personally, I still think Smith has at least 3 seasons of high level play left in him. He's a fan favorite in Jacksonville because he's a quiet work hard player who just seems to do everything right.
Smith is considered one of the best linebackers who will be testing the free-agent market.
SB Nation says Smith "could be an asset for any team if he is healthy. Smith racked up 311 tackles from 2009-2011 while also posting 8.5 sacks and playing well in coverage."
ESPN ranks Smith No. 16 on its list of the top 50 available free agents:
Part of the reason the Jaguars' defense took such a big step back this year was the loss of Smith for most of the season. A versatile player, Smith has excelled at outside linebacker in Jacksonville and showed his versatility by producing strong performances when the Jaguars briefly flirted with a 3-4 defense. He ranked No. 2 among 4-3 outside linebackers in 2011.
Smith received a +24.9 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2011, the second-highest grade among outside linebackers. He scored +6.0 in 2010 and +28.8 in 2009.
The questions with Smith would be how much has he lost after missing almost an entire season, and how much is he looking for on the free-agent market? He earned $4.7 million in base salary in 2012, the final year of a six-year contract with Jacksonville?
Is Smith a player you would like to see the team pursue, Giants' fans?