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Daryl Smith's value to Bucs will be measured by more than tackles

New Bucs linebacker Daryl Smith started every game the past three seasons for the Ravens. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Daryl Smith's days of being an every-down linebacker are pretty much over, but that doesn't mean the 34-year-old won't be a valuable contributor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In fact, his impact could be felt long after his one-year deal expires.

The Bucs don't need Smith as a middle linebacker, which is where he started every game over the past three seasons with Baltimore. That's Kwon Alexander's spot in Tampa Bay. Smith can be used as a strongside linebacker on first and second down, though, but maybe more importantly he can be an example, mentor and second coach for Alexander.

Alexander missed the final four games of his rookie season in 2015 after violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He had already become one of the better young linebackers in the NFL by that point, with 93 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Alexander has a bright future and can only benefit from playing alongside Smith, who has been one of the most dependable and consistent linebackers in the league over the past three seasons.

The Ravens signed Smith in 2013 to be the replacement for Ray Lewis, and Smith started every game and recorded at least 121 tackles in each of the last three seasons, though he ended up splitting playing time at the end of the 2015 season. Ravens coach John Harbaugh called Smith the most underrated linebacker in the NFL.

Smith also worked with rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley in 2014, helping Mosley adjust to the NFL and teaching him how to work and act like a pro. Smith also helped Mosely fight through what was somewhat of a disappointing first half of the 2015 season to put together a second half strong enough to become a Pro Bowl alternate.

Smith certainly isn't as vocal or demonstrative as Lewis, but Harbaugh said Smith more than capably stepped into the leadership role that was vacated when Lewis retired.

Smith will bring all those qualities to the Bucs, but his knowledge of coordinator Mike Smith's defensive system is a huge benefit, too. Daryl Smith was Jacksonville's second-round pick in 2004 and played under Mike Smith, then the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, for four seasons.

Daryl Smith should be able to make the transition from Lovie Smith's defense easier, especially for the rest of the Tampa Bay linebackers. He might not be the presence he once was on the field, but Daryl Smith will still make a substantial impact with the Bucs.