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AFC South Secret Stars: Is Daryl Smith the Best LB You've Never Heard Of?

Watch out. Smith is coming!
Watch out. Smith is coming!Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistAugust 2, 2012

The last of the AFC Secret Stars may be the best. If you don't know who Daryl Smith is, you aren't alone. You also don't live in Jacksonville.

Everyone there knows exactly who he is.

He's arguably the best player on the Jaguars, that's who.

While I realize that Maurice Jones-Drew isn't in camp now, I haven't forgotten he led the NFL in rushing last year. But it was Smith who topped ProFootball Focus's ratings for the Jaguars.

You don't have to buy into complicated charting metrics to agree.

Smith has been one of the best Jaguars in history, and last year was his best season to date. He was a sledgehammer in the run game, posting dominant metrics that reflected in more traditional measures as well. His 74 tackles were normal for him, but he also pitched in a career-best 33 assists to go with two forced fumbles.

For a Jaguars defense that often swarmed to ball carriers, plowing them under a host of bodies, Smith's numbers show how active he was getting in the middle of the action. That kind of servant mentality fits nice with his off the field persona.

In a turbulent summer of hold-outs, Smith stands tall in the final year of deal. There will be no hold-out drama from him, as he told Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union,

"I guess it's just my personality," Smith said. "What I'm thinking about now is getting better in this training camp. When the time comes, if they want to re-sign me, we can discuss it then. We got a new season ahead and a lot of work to do."

John Oehser of Jaguars.com announced via Twitter news that a groin injury will sideline him for a week of camp. Jaguars fans have to hope it's not an injury that lingers.

The last thing anyone wants to see is a player who honors his contract suffer by getting hurt and possibly missing his chance for a big pay day.

The team needs Smith to be healthy just as much as he needs it. Not only was he stout against the run, but he graded out very well in coverage too, proving he's the kind of backer who should be on the field every down.

Whether or not he was the best Jaguar last year is open to debate. What isn't in doubt is that he's the best Jaguar in camp right now.

With excellent leadership on the field and in the locker room, Smith is absolutely a star in Jacksonville and has been for a long time.

If only anyone knew his name.

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