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Mailbag: Jaylon Smith Improving in Pass Coverage?

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In consecutive weeks we saw teams try to isolate Jaylon Smith in pass coverage inside the red zone and near the goal line. Is he a liability or can he develop his coverage skills?– JOEY SAYSON / SANTA MONICA, CA

Jonny: You can make the argument that Jaylon is the most athletic player on the roster, and he's playing on a contract that suggests that there should be no limitations in his game. When the coaching staff talked to the media last month, linebackers coach Scott McCurley told me that Jaylon and Leighton Vander Esch are elite talents, but he still plans on working on fundamentals with them every day.

Nick: Let's be honest, all linebackers are going to be liabilities in coverage in the wrong matchups. Linebackers aren't designed to cover most of the skill players, especially this new-age of tight ends where most of them are oversized receivers. Smith found himself in the wrong matchup a few times and it will be the coaching staff that has to make sure to get him in the right position. He's more of a pass-rusher than he is a cover-guy. But to answer the second part, yes I think he can develop more in coverage with his technique. But I would think the coaches figure out better ways to utilize his skills.

If Amari Cooper doesn't return, was the trade really worth it?– KEVIN WATSON / CHOUDRANT, LA

Jonny: I remember being skeptical of the trade when it happened, but I don't know how you could say that it wasn't worth it. Dak Prescott has flourished since Cooper arrived and he recorded eight touchdowns and nearly 1,200 yards last season. I also think he will return, making it a moot point. But if I were to contradict myself, I might point out that Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was selected the pick after the one they traded to Oakland for Cooper. Brown caught seven touchdowns of his own as a rookie.

Nick: I think he will return so it's not going to matter much. But to answer the question, no it's not worth the trade. That's why they made it in the first place, because "he was 24" years old. We heard it over and over. So if he's young, that means he'll be here a while. I didn't think there was ever a time when he wouldn't be here long term.

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