PFF scouting report: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Mike Renner and the PFF draft analysts break down the play of Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith ahead of the 2016 NFL draft.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

PFF scouting report: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Below is the PFF draft profile for Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here.

Position fit:

Weakside linebacker. Potential to develop into the middle/strong side

Stats to know:

Fourth highest pass rushing productivity in the country

What he does best:

• Can play man coverage against backs, tight ends, and even slot receivers. Extremely fluid athlete that moves like a safety in the body of a linebacker
• Ability to line up between as a traditional linebacker as well as over the slot. 22 percent of snaps came outside the tackles
• Natural explosion that shines in pass rushing situations. +13.9 pass rushing grade over past two seasons (127 pass rushes)
• Elite speed to run and chase. Offensive linemen have no chance to cut him off on wide runs and he has the ability to track down running backs from behind.

Biggest concern:

• Far too timid in the run game. Will contact blockers moving backwards at times. Rarely wants to come stack an offensive lineman.
• Slow to read keys in the running game. Takes false steps much more than you’d like
• Huge missed tackle issue as a sophomore (18 MTs on 118 attempts). Remedied as a junior (9 MTs on 130 attempts)
• Serious knee injury sustained January, 1st at the Fiesta Bowl puts his rookie season and career in doubt

Player Comparison:

DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions. Levy at the moment is far more willing to attack blockers in the run game, but I see that kind of potential from Smith when he blows up backs and tight ends as a blitzer. Both allow you to scheme differently with their coverage ability.

Bottom line:

His injury would terrify me as a GM, but we here at PFF aren’t doctors so we’ll let them figure out the long-term ramifications. A fully healthy Smith is a rare coverage tool that has tremendous value in certain defenses.


  • Tim Edell

    If you have ever watched the ND practice video they released prior to last year they planned on utilizing him much more as a rusher last year. But because of injuries to their D he never got the chance to rush as was their plan. He dominated the RT in practice and even got Ronnie Stanley bad a few times. If fully healthy not only will he be a force vs the run and in coverage but IMO will turn into a devastating pass rusher in the NFL.

  • pobodysnerfect

    I’d love Smith as a 2nd day (preferably 3rd round) prospect in GB. Smith and Ragland would be a HELLUVA ILB core.

  • Rick

    He’s a HOF player if healthy.


    The knee injury really screwed this guy probably the #1 pick otherwise.