The Cowboys remain excited about their second-round draft choice, but it’s going to be a while before they get to see him in live action. Jaylon Smith has experienced no significant improvement in his injured nerve so far and playing in 2016 seems unlikely, according to ESPN.com’s Ed Werder (via Twitter).
In late 2015, Smith was viewed as a potential top-10 selection in the upcoming draft. However, that all changed when the Notre Dame standout tore his ACL and MCL in January. To make things worse, Smith was also diagnosed with a nerve issue in his ankle. At that point, teams began to fear that the linebacker would require a “redshirt” season in the NFL. Even though multiple teams gave Smith a failing grade on his physical at the combine and subsequently removed him from their draft boards, the Cowboys felt that Smith’s potential was just too good to pass up.
In his junior season with the Fighting Irish, Smith totaled 115 tackles with 9.0 tackles for a loss and 1 sack. In the year prior, he put up a similar statline of 111 tackles, 9.0 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. If Smith spends the season on the NFI list, as expected, he’ll be a restricted free agent in 2020 instead of an unrestricted free agent.
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