As stories fly out regarding all the Buccaneers’ new defensive players,Daryl Smith
seems to be a guy no one is talking about…and they should.
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In an off-season where the Buccaneers added the likes of Robert Ayers, Brent Grimes, Noah Spence, and Vernon Hargreaves, no one seems to want to talk about the linebacking corps’ third musketeer – Daryl Smith. Smith, who signed a one-year, $2.5-million dollar contract to be the Bucs’ strong side linebacker, was a second round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004. Most recently he was a dominant force with the Baltimore Ravens, amassing 121 tackles, three sacks, and an interception.
Over his three seasons with the Ravens, Smith had 372 tackles, nine sacks, five interceptions, and a touchdown. In an NFL where the defenses line up in nickel packages almost 60% of the time, Smith may not see the field often, but when he does, Bucs fans should expect him to be a force.
With Smith already knowing defensive coordinator Mike Smith‘s defense, he already has a leg up on teammates and he can help fellow linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander grasp the system faster. It may sound optimistic, but this group has a chance, a strong chance, at being the best linebacking corps in the NFL.
Linebackers coach Mark Duffner had some high praise for Smith earlier in the off-season;
"“It’s been great. I got the privilege to coach Daryl for seven years in Jacksonville and he was our all-time leading tackler, so he’s kind of like a coach on the field, so he’s been very helpful as far as that’s concerned. He had three very productive years in Baltimore and we’re counting on him doing the same here in Tampa.”"
At the end of the day, some view Daryl Smith as one of the better acquisitions the Bucs made this off-season, myself included. With so many others getting praise, maybe it’s better that Smith flies under the radar.
It’ll make for a bigger surprise to opposing offenses come September.