SATURDAY, 8:30am: “I’m going to be 100 percent again,” Smith said at his combine press conference (via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Daily News). “We just don’t know when.”
The writer notes that the linebacker is optimistic about his injury, and the player was also adamant that there’s no nerve damage in his knee. Still, Smith acknowledged that he took out an insurance policy on the injury last year.
“I feel great,” he said. “There’s no soreness in the knee, there’s no pain. I’ve been off pain pills for almost a month. It’s just a matter of the recovery process. I don’t know when the nerve and everything will heal. It’s just me taking it day-by-day and controlling what I can control.”
FRIDAY, 5:28pm: Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith was once considered by many to be the best defensive player entering this year’s draft, and was thought to be a potential top-10 selection. But after tearing his ACL and MCL in January, Smith’s status for the 2016 season is in question, as Dr. David Chao (formerly the Chargers’ team physician) tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports that Smith may need a “redshirt season,” meaning he might not be available until 2017.
The nature and timing of Smith’s knee injury is obviously unfortunate, but the more serious problem is the nerve damage that Smith suffered in his ankle, a source tells Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News (Twitter link), who reports that Smith is “probably” not going to be able to play in 2016. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) goes even further, adding that NFL clubs believe Smith could be out even beyond the 2016 season.
Indeed, whether Smith will ever regain his full health — or anything close to it — appears to be something of an open question. A source told Marvez that two doctors have disparate opinions about Smith’s possible recovery — while one doctor was optimistic, another puts Smith’s chances for a complete recovery at just 10 percent.
Obviously, Smith’s health, wellness, and mobility are the primary concerns in this situation, but the stark reality is that this latest news will no doubt affect his draft stock. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, for example, once rated Smith as his No. 2 overall player, but now it’s fair to wonder if any club will risk taking Smith in the first round.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.