Where do you start with a player like Jaylon Smith? This kid can do it all. He’s smart, athletic, physical, a leader – there’s nothing he can’t do. It takes a special player to come into a program like Notre Dame and establish himself as the leader of that defense; Smith has done a fine job succeeding another ND great, Manti Te’o. Entering the season, Smith was widely viewed as the top linebacker prospect, and he sure hasn’t disappointed.

Name: Jaylon Smith
College: Notre Dame
Size: 6’2”/240
Class: Junior
Projection: Top 10
Comparison: Patrick Willis

Strengths

  • Athleticism/speed
  • Sure tackler
  • Hard hitter
  • Excellent in coverage
  • Diagnosing plays
  • Adjusting to shifting ball carriers
  • Physical
  • Blitzing
  • Play-maker
  • Versatility

Weaknesses

  • Strength
  • Disengaging blockers

Summary

I absolutely love Jaylon Smith, he’s a can’t miss prospect. His game is so well-rounded, he brings so much to the table and there isn’t much that he lacks. He has elite athleticism, especially for the position. He can get sideline-to-sideline like he’s getting shot out of a cannon. I can’t wait to see what his 40 time ends up at. Smith is a straight up playmaker who does a good job at getting to the QB with his speed when blitzing, he is arguably the best LB in the draft in terms of coverage, and he can lay a licking on opposing ball carriers.

Not only is he a playmaker who can turn in a flashy play on a regular basis, he is as sturdy as they come. Smith is an extremely reliable tackle who rarely gets beat, even in the open field. He can lay the wood and knows when to do so. Smith is a smart, intelligent linebacker. He does a fantastic job at reading and diagnosing plays and can adjust himself in a split-second. Smith is extremely physical, especially when in pursuit of the ball carrier – he doesn’t let anyone get in his way.

As you can see, there isn’t much to knock about Smith’s game. He tends to get tossed around out there every once in a while and he struggles to shed blocks a disengage when snatched up. He definitely could stand to add more strength.

Smith is extremely versatile which will boost his stock come draft day. I’ve seen him go from the middle, to the outside, then line up with his hand in the dirt on the edge all in the same defensive series. He can fit in any defensive scheme and play wherever you need him to. Although, I think his best fit is in the middle of a 3-4.

It’s still unclear whether or not Smith will enter the draft with another year of eligibility remaining. Some speculate he’ll follow Will Fuller’s footsteps and go back to school for his senior year. At the end of the day, it’s going to be hard to turn down millions of dollars. Smith is a surefire top 10 pick, and even in the top 5 on my board.

About The Author Jonathan Valencia

Jonathan has been investing his time in sports writing for the past decade. Breaking Football's lead writer covers anything from the NFL Draft to providing fantasy football insight. Born and raised in the Jersey Shore. Follow him on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB to talk anything football.