Jaylon Smith expected to move to strongside linebacker

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Byron Jones isn’t the only player on the Cowboys defense who could have a new position in 2018. Jaylon Smith could move from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker.

“We’re really excited about him as a player,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Again, his development has been significant. I think physically he will get better and better as we go. And certainly, he will learn from his experiences. He does have versatility. He can play any of the spots. You want to make sure you give him a chance to succeed.

“The SAM in our defense is an important spot but there is so much nickel defense being played in the NFL. Often times you only have two linebackers out on the field, so you want to give him more than just that role. He might be a SAM in base, but you want to make sure he has a role when we’re playing our two linebacker defense as well.”

Smith played the second-most snaps among the team’s linebackers last season, staying on the field for 55 percent of the plays. It was more than the Cowboys wanted him to play as he returned from a devastating injury to his left knee that kept him off the field in his rookie season of 2016.

“He probably played more than we wanted him to play at the outset of the season,” Garrett said. “When Hitch [Anthony Hitchens] was hurt and then Sean [Lee] was hurt, he had to play a lot of snaps. He played his best football when his snaps were more limited and situations he was most comfortable, playing next to those guys. You’ve got to remember that he’s a [player who missed his rookie season], and he’s coming off an injury. There are a lot of factors that went into his performance this year. But there’s no doubts in our minds that he got better as it went on, and he played best when we had him in that environment where he was most comfortable.”

If the Cowboys are unable to re-sign Hitchens, who becomes a free agent March 14, middle linebacker becomes a priority.

9 responses to “Jaylon Smith expected to move to strongside linebacker

  1. Still can’t figure out why Dallas took Jaylon Smith over Myles Jack in the 2016 draft.

    I wonder what Cowboy fans thought watching Jack make some big time plays for the Jags in the playoffs this year.

  2. i.e. “He’s really not the player we thought he was… and we are going to try and salvage something out of him….”

  3. Time for Sean Lee to call it a career. All the talent in the world and a dominant player but his body just wasn’t cut out to be in “a car wreck every week.”

  4. RussianBreadMaker says:
    March 1, 2018 at 2:25 pm
    Body seems more fit to be a SS.

    No, he’s too heavy for that. He might be able to drop into SS weight but as he is, he’s god good size and athleticism for any of the LB positions.

    BUT, teams better figure out that Roquan Smith is going to have real difficulty. People want to downplay his lack of size, but these things become much more of a factor at the next level. you can win a Butkus Award in college at 225. But you’re never going to stop Ezekiel Elliot or Marshawn Lynch and the big TEs are going to have a field day w him in coverage.

  5. PoliticalCorrectnessBelongsInTheKitchen says:
    March 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm
    Jesus guys it was his rookie year! No Dallas fan but definitely like this kids potential.

    Eagles fan here and yeah I saw some good potential from him. Middle LB might not be the best fit with his size but he does have the speed and lateral agility to go sideline to sideline after a rb. Let’s see how he holds up this year having had a season to adjust to the speed and another year removed from that horrible kneee injury. If he improves he will be a gamer. If he digresses or stays the same then he probably wasn’t work that high of a pick by could still be a decent contributor. Again time will tell, but next year is a big year for the young man…

  6. Jaylon was thrown in, as need, too soon and contrary to the slow paced plan from day 1
    It was the best possible thing for him and team to gauge him and see his strengths and weaknesses
    He learned and grew and are a healthy dose of humble pie
    Let’s see his year two production
    Heck, maybe he’s like Hitch and proves to play all three positions well
    He played all over at Notre Dame😋
    It’s not a demotion at all, they’re seeing all they have in him before regular season and this too will benefit his overall play and worth

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