Athlete Profile: Jason Smith

Jason Smith often reminisces about his only collegiate touchdown.

He was playing tight end for Baylor University during his redshirt freshman season in a 2005 matchup against Oklahoma. The Bears were on the Sooners’ 2-yard line when quarterback Shawn Bell called the play Spartan-22. Smith knew what that meant. When his defender bit on the running back who had run out into the flat, Smith broke free in the end zone before hauling in Bell’s pass for the touchdown.

“I remember everything about that play,” he said in an interview with Scout.com.

Smith’s time as a skill position player was short-lived, however, as the Bears’ coaching staff decided after the season to switch the big man from tight end to offensive tackle.

It’s safe to say that the move has turned out to be a wise decision.

Smith, an agile 6-5, 310-pounder, now finds himself as one of the highest rated prospects in this April’s NFL draft.

While his time as a tight end was brief, that experience helped him in his switch to the offensive line. Scouts and teams have raved about Smith’s athletic ability, and see him as equal parts lock down pass protector and a playmaking pulling lineman in the running game.

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Seahawks trade Julian Peterson to Lions for Cory Redding

The Seahawks traded linebacker Julian Peterson to the Lions for defensive tackle Cory Redding and a fifth round pick according to FOX Sports.com.

The deal raises questions about Detroit’s draft-day plans. The Lions hold the top overall pick and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry had been suggested as a candidate for that spot.

The Seahawks gave Peterson a $54 million, seven-year contract three years ago after their Super Bowl appearance in Detroit. Peterson became an expensive asset because linebacker Leroy Hill got $8.4 million guaranteed this year with a franchise tag and Lofa Tatupu signed a $42 million contract a year ago.

Peterson will team up with Ernie Sims and give the Lions a solid outside linebacker duo. They still need to find a middle linebacker, however, and now address the hole they’ve created on their defensive line after trading Redding.

As the article suggests, this move probably means that Curry won’t be the top pick. Unless there’s a sleeper candidate out there (B.J. Raji?), the Lions will probably choose between Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith.

Rams to draft a tackle at No. 2?

Peter King of SI.com believes that the Rams will likely select an offensive tackle with the No. 2 overall pick in next month’s NFL draft.

Orlando PaceNow that St. Louis has released Orlando Pace, there’s very little doubt the Rams will use either pick number three or pick 35 at the top of the second round to pick into the teeth of a tackle-rich draft.

Well, King’s notion certainly makes sense considering the Rams now have a Grand Canyon-sized hole at left tackle. And this is certainly the draft to take a tackle with Baylor’s Jason Smith and Virginia’s Eugene Monroe both being viewed as top 10 picks, if not top 5.

But the wild card in this situation is Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, who would also fill a need for the Rams and appears to be the best prospect in the entire draft. If the Lions don’t take him, St. Louis could pull the trigger and make a solid, safe selection in the versatile linebacker.

Lions meet with Baylor OT Jason Smith

The Lions recently sat down and talked with Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith.

Jason SmithThe Lions took a break from free-agent visits Monday to meet with college prospect Jason Smith, an offensive tackle from Baylor who’s among a handful of players vying to be the No. 1 overall selection in April’s draft.

Smith arrived in Detroit on Sunday and spent most of Monday in Allen Park meeting with front-office officials and coaches.

Teams are limited to 30 private visits at their own facilities before the draft. So the Lions, with five picks among the first 82, including two first-rounders, figure to host other top candidates the coming weeks. Most draft prospects have yet to take part in pro-day workouts at their college campuses.

Despite popular belief, if a team meets with a prospect before the draft it usually is a red flag that they won’t be selecting that player. Obviously that’s not the case every single time, but teams usually don’t like to tip their hand as to which prospects they have their eyes on, so they’ll avoid those players like the plague.

But the Lions realistically have their eye on their players: Smith, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Curry. Now, there could be a sleeper prospect that people are overlooking (Eugene Monroe maybe?), but those appear to be the three players that Detroit is focusing on. That said, it would behoove them to meet with all of those players since they have the No. 1 pick. Nobody selects in front of them in the first round, so it doesn’t make sense to try and throw other teams off. Plus, the Lions have said this entire time that they will negotiate a deal with the player that they will select before the draft. So who knows – maybe Smith is the pick.

Offseason Blueprint: Jacksonville Jaguars

Notable Free Agents: Mike Peterson, LB; Brad Meester, C; Khalif Barnes, OT; Reggie Williams, WR; Chris Naeole, G; Joe Zelenka, TE.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $15,500,000

Draft Order: 8

Top Needs: OL, CB, LB, WR, RB.

Offseason Outlook: Let the cleansing process begin. The Jaguars have already released long-time veteran running back Fred Taylor, 2008 free agent bust Jerry Porter and disappointing cornerback Drayton Florence. There’s also little to no chance the team makes a play to re-sign middle linebacker Mike Patterson, who was at odds with head coach Jack Del Rio for the better part of the ‘08 season.

The team also made Gene Smith in charge of personnel decisions and Del Rio is expected to take over the defensive playcalls next year, which should turn out to be two sound moves.

In terms of personnel, the team needs to address the offensive line first and foremost and then go from there. The O-line was ransacked with injuries last season, not to mention heartbreak when Richard Collier suffered 14 gunshot wounds in early September, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The Jags don’t have to reinvent the wheel because they’re already got the makings of a competitive team. But they need to regroup and rebuild through the draft and a good start would be to get their hands on one of the top offensive tackle prospects that will be available in the top 10.

Even though his talent is unquestioned, Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith is proving with each passing day that he may be too much of a risk to be taken with the No. 8 overall pick. But Virginia’s Eugene Monrore, Baylor’s Jason Smith or Ole Miss’s Michael Oher could be available and could replace Khalif Barnes at left tackle, who is expected to depart via free agency.


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