1) Introduction: Disregarded as he lacked the prototypical height of a inside linebacker, DJ Smith did however become the leading tackler in NCAA Division I FCS with 525 career tackles and was part of the famous Michigan vs. Appalachian State game in 2007. Smith was drafted in the 6thround by with much confusion, as many fans couldn’t understand why the Packers had drafted a short inside linebacker in one of the Packers deepest positions.
Weight: 239 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Next to nothing; due to his tackling acumen and position, Smith figured to see most of his time on special teams. Furthermore, Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk had both received sizable contracts during the offseason so there was little chance in upsetting the starter for playing time. Finally, due to the responsibilities of the inside linebackers to call and shift plays, Smith seemed destined to ride the bench this season while learning his position.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Smith’s career thus far has to be against the Oakland Raiders in week 14 where he started the Packers landslide victory with an interception and capped it off with 10 tackles total. Lowlights, if you can call it that, would be the three games (vs Denver, Atlanta and Chicago) where Smith did not record a tackle, which is an oddity for a player who recorded 43 total tackles for the entire year.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Moderate; considering his lack of NFL experience, Smith actually filled in admirably when the starters went down to the point where some were questioning if AJ Hawk was really much of an improvement over Smith (who has been criticized for his poor tackling acumen). Perhaps even more stunning was that communication on the field remained a non-factor as the coaching staff were forced to signal in plays from the sidelines after both “green dot” helmets (worn by Hawk and Bishop) were on the sidelines. Finally, if you average his tackling numbers over the 3 games he started to a 16 week season, Smith would have lead the team in tackles with 144 (which is nearly 30 tackles more than Desmond Bishop who lead the team this year with 115 tackles)
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Minimal; With Hawk and Bishop healthy, Smith was relegated back to being a back up and core special teams contributor. Smith did not record any statistics during the game and did not see any time on the field with the defense.
Season Report Card:
(D) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success
(D) Player’s contributions in the playoffs
Overall Grade for the year: C——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.