JANUARY 11: Smith has announced (via Twitter) that he’ll enter the 2016 draft, despite his knee injury. A Friday report indicated that surgery on that torn ACL and MCL went about as well as could be expected, so perhaps the linebacker’s stock won’t slip too significantly.
JANUARY 5: Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith will undergo reconstructive left knee surgery on Thursday, sources tell ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen (on Twitter). Smith was projected to go somewhere in the top 10 in this year’s draft by many pundits. Now, it’s unclear whether he’ll declare for the draft at all.
Smith was said to have suffered a “significant knee injury” during his team’s bowl game against Ohio State on New Year’s Day. Smith, a junior, was expected to be drafted near the top end of the first round — Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, for example, had Smith rated as his No. 2 overall player. Now facing a major injury and recovery time, Smith could either declare for the draft and get himself guaranteed money as he rehabs or return to school in an effort to be a top ten selection in 2017.
The most recent example of a top collegiate prospect suffering a knee injury is, of course, Todd Gurley, who was drafted with the 10th overall pick after tearing his ACL. However, these are two separate cases. Gurley, a running back, suffered his injury in mid-November, not January, and was considered a generational talent. Smith might not be regarded as a slam-dunk prospect to begin with, so it’s hard to say where his stock would be for this year’s draft.
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