Any passionate NFL fan would know that Jacksonville's Daryl Smith was quietly one of the best in the game in the mid-late 2000's, yet the name was seldom heard in most circles, largely because of the team he was on. That would change.
When the Ravens brought on Daryl Smith in 2013 to "replace" Ray Lewis' spot on the defense on a one-year deal, many thought it would be just that, a one-year thing. After all, the 31 year-old Smith was recovering from injuries that had sidelined him for most of the 2012 season. Yet his 2013 performance proved doubters wrong. That year, he led the struggling team in tackles, with 123, and broke Ray Lewis' franchise record for most pass deflections in a single season (17) with 18. He also tacked on 3 interceptions, and returned one to the house, and also forced two fumbles.
In 2014, with a new contract, and a new compadre in rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley, he managed to post yet another great season. Improving his tackle stats, and staying healthy for all 16 games.
Now the 'Madden' video game series is recognizing Smith for his outstanding play by naming him a Top 5 linebacker in the upcoming installation of their series. The 6’2, 250 beast received a 90 overall rating, which is on par with Packers' stud Clay Matthews, and just behind the Seahawks' star linebacker Bobby Wagner. EA Sports, the makers of 'Madden' praised Smith's veteran leadership, citing his attendance at this year's optional OTAs as an example. The group gave top marks to Smith in the categories of Tackling (92), Pursuit (92), Play Recognition (95).
Smith is now the fourth Raven to get top marks in this year's game. Terrell Suggs and Marshal Yanda both received top marks at their positions, and another Raven was ranked best at his position today (more on that tomorrow). This year's squad looks scary on paper, and will be scary on the virtual field.