DJ Smith: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers inside linebacker DJ Smith
DJ Smith

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.

2) Profile:

D.J. Smith

Position: ILB
Height: 5-11
Weight: 239 lbs.
AGE: 22
Career Stats


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


  • Lucas

    Again, I don’t understand what you mean by “Level of expectations met during the season”. He clearly met the expectations. So why a D grade? Nobody expected him to be a spot starter, and when he was in that role, he more than exceeded the expectations.

    The only way I can reason a D grade in that category is that you mean we only expected a D out of him.

    He was expected to be a role player, which every successful team needs. In that role of special teams and spot player (not spot starter), he did what was expected. How can a D be earned for doing what was expected? Did he do what was expected at a D level? NO!

    • Mojo

      Right Lucas, especially since one of Thomas’s premises was; “3)Expectations coming into the season for that player: Next to nothing;”.

      If you have have “next to nothing” expectations before the season starts, how can you get a ‘D’, considering Smith did have a role with this team?
      Doesn’t make sense. I’d say if the preseason expectations for Smith were truly next to nothing then he more than exceeded them and should, at the worst, get a C.

      Then you give a B to his teams overall success. It seems your your first two statements are contradictory.

      • I think you guys have a valid point. We’re discussing this in-house now to be sure we all have the same interpretation of “level of expectations” met and grading system going forward.

        • Oppy

          Perhaps it should be broken down into two separate categories-

          1) Expectations

          2) Level of Expectations met.

          It wouldn’t be a grade, but on outline of what was expected of the player going into the season, either written out or bullet style, point by point, and then a letter grade would be applied based on if the player failed to meet those goals, sustained them, or exceeded them…?

  • Ron LC

    I guess he gets a D level for the playoffs because he didn’t do the team a favor and “knee-cap” Hawk before the Giant game.

  • David Wysocki

    Looks like he received an upgrade to a C here which I still don’t get. The dude performed anytime he was on the field. Considering his lack of opportunities, and when on the field looking like the second or third best LB on the team, I think he at least deserves a B. Not his fault Capers had a rager for Hawk the incompetent.

  • john driscoll austin texas

    D? for disagree, Hawk should trade paychecks with DJ

    • JimR_in_DC

      Excellent idea!

  • Dan

    Solid 6th rd pick , I’m glad he’s a Packer, seems like he can only get better which is good, because I thought he played well on D when he filled in

  • Sanguine Camper

    D.J. Smoth reminds me of another undersized linebacker: Sam Mills. Mills was a tackling machine. If Smith replaces Hawk it will be a big upgrade next season for the defense. Smith isn’t afraid of the line of scrimmage. He plays like he actually likes to hit runners for no gain.

  • Mark

    I have to admit that I really like this guy. Any chance he could play OLB in a 3-4 scheme, at least on early downs?

    • PackersRS

      Too small to take on OTs.

      Plus, he has the instincts to play ILB, to fly around and locate the football, he’s natural doing that. Very different than a pass rusher.

      • Mark

        I dont think there are many TIONs that are both built to take on It’s and rush the passer. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the fact that he is a couple of inches shorter and 8 pounds lighter than our strong-side backer, as well as the platoon of guys we had at rolb is going to be detrimental to his performance. Lack of playing ability would be however, and that’s what I’m most interested in hearing about.

        That being said, I do agree that his size is less than ideal, bit that was why he was a 6th round pick. Of he performs on the field, is like to find a way to get him more playing time and I don’t think that Hawk is going to be on the sidelines more in order to do that.