The Jaguars traded up nine spots to take Jordan Smith in the 2021 NFL draft. Here’s how he sees himself fitting in with the team.
Jacksonville’s new head coach Urban Meyer may have no experience at the NFL level, but at all of his previous stops at the college level, he’s achieved greatness. In his first job at Bowling Green State, he inherited a team that went 2-9 in 2000 and put together a 17-6 record in two years. At Utah, he went undefeated and won a BCS bowl in 2004. Between Florida and Ohio State, he won three national championships and had seven seasons end with one loss or fewer.
Jordan Smith, who Jacksonville traded up nine spots to draft in the fourth round with the 121st pick, said he’s excited to be a part of Meyer’s next dynasty with the Jaguars.
“I feel like Urban Meyer has did this continuously in the past,” Smith said after he was drafted. “so I feel like it’s an honor to be a part of another dynasty he’s about to create.”
The edge rusher from Alabama Birmingham was a First Team All-Conference USA selection in 2020 despite his sack numbers dropping from 10 to 4.5. That’s because Smith, the first Blazers’ draft pick since the team’s hiatus from football, constantly drew double teams after his junior performance. He has said he took that as a sign of respect.
“I feel like I was the best pass-rusher in this draft,” Smith said. “I’ve shown multiple different moves that I’ve used effectively. Where other pass-rushers have less moves, two or three moves, I have a big arsenal of moves. I use my mind, I use my mental game to help me excel in the game, so I feel like I bring a lot to the table.”
Meyer says the team hopes to develop Smith into a backup for Josh Allen, but based on his comments, it sounds like he may be more of a project player.
“(He’s a) very raw, talented guy that can rush the passer,” Meyer said. “Very raw. He’s got a long way to go.”
But patience is something Smith knows very well. He originally began his college career with Meyer’s former team, the Florida Gators. However, he was dismissed from the team for his role in a credit card fraud scheme that implicated a number of UF players. Smith later pled no contest to third-degree felony charges and transferred to UAB after a JUCO stint with Butler Community College.
Smith said he had to develop a mental toughness to continue his football career after that setback, and he’s laser-focused on succeeding both on and off the field.
“What I learned about myself is that I’m very mentally strong,” he said. “I feel like if that was any other player in this draft who had to go through what I went through they probably wouldn’t have made it back to this point, so I just know I have a great mental. I give everything to God. I keep everything spiritual, and I just make sure I do everything I need to to make sure I don’t go back down those roads again and make sure I can just go up from here and excel.”
Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke had to like Smith a lot, as it was a surprisingly costly deal to move up nine spots to take him. In addition to pick No. 130, they gave up picks No. 170 and 249, getting the 209th pick in return. But if he develops into a capable edge rusher that can spell Allen, it was almost certainly worth it.