This week, our friends at SB Nation asked us a simple question: Which of your defensive linemen are flying under the radar?
It’s funny (and awesome) that my first reaction was to laugh. Who is flying under the radar along this defensive line? Calais Campbell is on pace to set a franchise record with sacks. Yannick Ngakoue is getting national recognition as the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft and could be a cornerstone for years to come. Dante Fowler isn’t flying under any radars and has been far more productive than we thought he would.
Even the interior guys are getting love. Newly acquired Marcell Dareus is making the kind of impact that even casual observers can see. Malik Jackson is a marquee name and he forced a late fumble in last week’s win.
But someone who’s flashed in recent weeks — and had a few plays in the backfield last week against Philip Rivers and a better-than-anticipated offensive line — was rookie defensive end Dawuane Smoot, including this hit on Rivers as he threw the ball away.
Unclear what play put Philip Rivers in the concussion protocol, but Antonio Gates suggested this high-low tackle: "If I was a betting man, that would have probably been the hit that kind of put him in the situation that he's in now." https://t.co/nRNJLxwJQu pic.twitter.com/pXqd5TrgFg— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) November 14, 2017
Smoot is by no means a big-time impact player yet. And his flashes have been few and far between. But the Jaguars need desperately to build some depth behind Ngakoue and Fowler and the stout 263-pound Smoot is trying to fill that role. If they’re trying to save Campbell and Ngakoue for the playoffs as the second half of the season wears on, look for Smoot to get those opportunities.