I will start this by stating that I do not think Telvin Smith is a better player right now than Allen Hurns, who was number seven on the list. I would consider them equals at this point. Both players have shown their worth through two seasons in the NFL, but Telvin gets the sixth spot because he is slightly more important to the Jaguars right now. Hurns is wonderful, and adds a great dynamic to the Jaguars offense, but without Telvin Smith on the field over the past two years the Jaguars would have lost even more. With that said, let’s get to it!
Telvin Smith was a fifth round pick in 2014 despite being a leader on one of the best defenses in college football and helping guide his Florida State Seminoles to a national title. This was partially due to a failed drug test and partially due to him not being able to add any weight to his sub 220 pound frame. All that is a thing of the past now as Telvin has burst onto the NFL scene. In his first two years with the Jaguars, Smith racked up 232 total tackles, despite starting only nine games his rookie season. In his addition to his penchant for piling up the tackles, Smith also contributes several game changing plays every year, including 4.5 sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and a touchdown over the first two seasons of his career.
Perhaps Smith’s greatest attribute is his speed. Telvin could be the fastest player on the defensive side of the ball for the Jaguars despite being a linebacker. His speed converts to power well and he is able to bring down tacklers at or behind the line of scrimmage game in and game out. Where Smith struggles is with covering tight ends and slot receivers down the middle of the field. This is something that should be somewhat corrected with offseason film work, an improved secondary behind him, and a much improved pass rush.
Beyond his stellar play on the field he has also become a team leader both vocally and in his actions. At the young age of 25, it appears that the sky is the limit for this weakside linebacker.
The Bottom Line: Smith is already an above average player at his position and is only getting better. He will always struggle to shed big blockers, but his freakish athleticism at the linebacker position makes him a rare find and one of the most important pieces to the puzzle in the Jaguars defense.