In two NFL seasons, Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Jordan Smith has played just 32 career snaps. The 2021 fourth-round pick was a healthy scratch almost every week of his rookie season, then missed all of 2022 due to a season-ending knee injury.
With no sacks under his belt, Smith knows that he’s running out of time to make an impact. His third season with the Jaguars may be his last chance to truly make a first impression.
“It’s absolutely huge,” Smith said of the 2023 season in an interview with News4Jax. “I feel like this year is going to basically dictate the way the rest of my future goes. That’s just the way I look at it.
“I really feel like I have to have a standout, breakout year and I’m motivated and trying to push towards that every day. So I really don’t have a doubt in my mind that I’m going to accomplish my goal.”
Step one for Smith is continuing his rehab until he’s ready to practice and play without limitations. For now, he says he’s about 80 percent and is dealing with tenderness in his knee nearly a year removed from surgery.
Smith, 25, had 14.5 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in 23 career games with the UAB Blazers, earning All-Conference USA honors in each of his two seasons with the program.
“At the end of the day, you get your bread and butter by sacking the quarterback,” Smith told News4Jax. “That’s what I plan on doing a lot of.”
With little depth behind Travon Walker and Josh Allen at outside linebacker, Smith will have a chance through the remainder of the offseason to show he can be the player the Jaguars thought he’d be when they traded up to pick him in 2021. That impact needs to happen sooner rather than later, though.