Should D.J. Smith start ahead of A.J. Hawk for the Packers?
Pro Football Focus analyzes every play of every NFL game to grade players on their performance. Comparing their statistical and in-depth analysis can confirm or contradict what people think about a player. This year, due to the late injury of A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith appeared promising when he replaced him.
According to the people at PFF, “we have to believe that Smith played significantly better than Hawk for the year of 2011″.
Hawk, thanks to the PFF analysis, has been graded out at -3.5 in 2011, it shows a below average performance over his 14 games. However, Smith graded at +5.7 during the four games he played.
What also made Smith really stand out was his tackling efficiency. His ratio was 18.0, which could have ranked him in the top 10 of all inside linebackers, only if he had played more snaps.
Do we have to conclude that Smith will supplant Hawk as the Green Bay Packers inside linebacker?
Despite the good result of Smith, Hawk’s contract and his experience with the defense makes it impossible. However, the situation where Hawk plays less and Smith more is mounting.