The Green Bay Packers have a need at the inside linebacker position and there is a good chance that they will look to fill it in the 2016 NFL Draft. There are a few different options for them to choose from, but one of them is Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith. He has been falling down draft boards due to the brutal knee injury that he suffered last season, but the Packers should not let that deter them from drafting him.
Smith would be a perfect fit for the Packers and they should draft him if he’s available with the No. 27 overall pick in the draft.
Clay Matthews was moved to the inside linebacker position during the 2015 season to help defend against the run. He was good at the position, but Green Bay’s pass rush suffered without him on the edge. They need to get him back outside to be a deadly duo with veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers.
According to Ryan Disdier of NFL Spin Zone, Smith to the Packers may just end up happening. He listed Smith falling all the way down to No. 27 for Green Bay.
Last season with the Fighting Irish before his knee injury, Smith was considered a potential top-10 pick. He recorded 115 tackles, a sack, five defensed passes, and a forced fumble. Those numbers showed how diverse his skill set is and there is no question that he will succeed at the next level if his knee is fully healthy.
Mike McCarthy’s defense was not awful last season, but it certainly wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Drafting Smith may not be an immediate fix for them, but in the long-term view it would be a massive upgrade.
He has been asked about the Packers and made it very clear that he loves them and is impressed with head coach McCarthy.
“Yes. Yes. I love them. Mike McCarthy … wow. That was a great interview.”
Looking ahead to the 2016 season, the Packers are going to be serious contenders in the NFC once again. If they want to contend for another Super Bowl appearance, their defense has to take the next leap.
Even though Smith could miss some time in 2016 due to his knee injury, he has the potential to be one of the top middle linebackers in the NFL at some point in the future.
There are good players available at other positions that the Packers could target. They have plenty of options to work with, but Smith is the option that they should go with if he is still on the board. He is without question one of the best players in the draft, but health is being factored in way too much.
Standing in at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Smith has the body to be a beast at the next level.
Green Bay is a perfect fit for Smith, as they can give him the time to come back from the injury. They will not rush him back and will play Matthews at his position until the time comes for Smith to get back on the field.
It will be interesting to see where Smith ends up going in the draft. He could go early in the first round or he could end up falling into the second round. Green Bay could very well end up having the opportunity to draft the former Notre Dame star.
Expect to hear plenty of rumors come out about the Packers in the near future. They have made so many great picks in past drafts and they are not scared to take a player recovering from an injury.
Do you think that Jaylon Smith would be a perfect fit for the Green Bay Packers? Should they draft Smith if he is still available when the No. 27 pick rolls around?
[AP Photo/Michael Conroy]