In the Jacksonville Jaguars organization, the man at the very top is an Illini grad.
As of Friday night, so is the newest member of the club- Defensive end Dawuane Smoot.
The 6-3, 264-pound tackles-for-losses machine was selected with the fourth pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Smoot was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 68th overall pick.
Dawuane Smoot finished 31st in the nation in tackles for a loss last fall sixth in the Big Ten in TFLs per game (1.7), third in the Big Ten in TFLs during conference game (13.0) and eighth in the Big Ten in sacks during conference games (5.0). Illinois as a team was ninth in the country. Smoot is the fourth Illini player drafted by the Jaguars and the first since 2004 (Kevin Hardy 1996 (3rd overall pick), Danny Clark 1999, Sean Bubin 2004).
We spoke with NFL Network Draftnik Mike Mayock about the draft stock of Illini defensive ends Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips.
“Smoot is a little bigger and had more consistent production over a longer period of time. I thought he struggled a little bit against Jon Heck from North Carolina, and I thought the kid from Western Michigan, Moton, handled it also. That made me nervous. He came to the Senior Bowl and had a good week. He’s got natural pass-rush ability but has to be better against the run,” said Mayock.”
“I think Smoot probably goes third, fourth round, somewhere near that.”
Mayock was accurate about the specific round. There is one Illini already on the Jags roster, seven year veteran wide receiver Arrelious Benn.
Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan graduated from the University of Illinois College of Engineering with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 1971. He later was awarded the Mechanical Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. Smoot enters JAX’s 4-3 scheme as the likely back-up to RDE Calais Campbell.
Illini football Coach Lovie Smith offered this analysis of Smoot during the final week of 2017 spring practice.
“He can of course be a 4-3, left end ideally, he can be a stand-up 4-3 linebacker too, so it’s kind of the preference, he has skills that are pretty flexible, play a couple different ways”
“Most people don’t see him as fast as he really is, so I think he’s going to surprise people with his speed, and agility,” said Illini DL James Crawford, who played alongside Dawuane Smoot last season.
“Smoot is a quick guy that people don’t really see,” Crawford added.
“Because he’s a prototype 250-260 defensive end, but he’s got speed to him too.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN.