5 teams that make football sense for Aldon Smith
The San Francisco 49ers released Aldon Smith last week after he was arrested on charges of DUI and hit and run. Those are obviously very serious charges, and ones that put his short- and long-term futures in the NFL into question.
However, there have been reports this week that some teams are showing at least some interest in signing Smith, depending on how his legal and league discipline situations turn out.
There’s no question that Smith is a top-level edge rusher, rivaling J.J. Watt and Von Miller as one of the most effective pass-rushers in our grading system since he’s entered the league.
Purely from a football perspective, which teams would benefit the most from signing Smith? Here are five teams that fit the bill:
Detroit Lions: The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and George Johnson from their defensive line this offseason. While they added Haloti Ngata in the middle to off-set some of that loss, there is no getting away from the fact that they lost their best pass-rushers outside of Ziggy Ansah, seeing 118 total pressures leave from those three players alone. Smith had 32 total pressures on his own in just seven games last year, so he can definitely add something here.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars knew they needed to add an outside force to the edge of their defense in 2015, and opted to draft Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. with their first draft pick in May’s NFL draft. Unfortunately, Fowler tore his ACL in his first practice with the team and is out for the season, while Chris Clemons has been absent at the start of training camp. Last year the Jaguars didn’t have an edge rusher register a higher pass-rushing productivity score higher than 6.5, while Smith has never had a PRP score of lower than 11.2 since entering the league.
New York Giants: Another team that is suffering thanks to injury, the Giants need some help off the edge given the uncertainty around Jason Pierre-Paul’s return from injury will be able to return to the team. They drafted Owamagbe Odighizuwa out of UCLA, but his best work came against the run. Pierre-Paul had the 16th-best PRP score among 4-3 defensive ends a year ago, so someone like Smith would give the Giants a guaranteed threat off the edge in his absence.
San Diego Chargers: A team that should contend in the AFC West, the Chargers really need to improve the edge of their defense. The top two outside linebackers in San Diego are Melvin Ingram and Tourek Williams. Ingram improved as a pass-rusher in 2014, but Williams hasn’t provided much in the two seasons he has been in the league. In fact, off of the 158 pass-rushing snaps since entering the league, he has recorded just eight total pressures.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have arguably the best defensive tackle in football in Gerald McCoy, and one of the best off-ball linebacckers in Lavonte David, but they could definitely benefit from an improvement off the edge. George Johnson has the potential to be a very smart addition at one defensive end spot, but on the other side, William Gholston contributed just 25 total pressures from 325 pass-rushing snaps as a rookie.