If you follow college football, you know Jaylon Smith is one of the most, if not the most, talented linebackers going into the draft. He was likely going to be a top 10 draft pick at worst. But now, the conversation is about whether he’ll be drafted, or even ever play in the NFL. Smith’s knee is injured, maybe more seriously injured than many thought.
One thing that can be confirmed is Smith is unlikely to play in 2016, regardless of if he is drafted or not. This all started when Smith suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee in the Fiesta Bowl in which his team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, faced the Ohio State Buckeyes. Something that is concerning to NFL teams is the fact that the nerves in Smith’s leg have not fully regenerated and it’s unknown both if or when they may regenerate. This is clearly a serious issue.
Smith, standing 6’3, weighing 223 pounds, led the Fughting Irish with 114 tackles in 2015. He won the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in college football. He was considered one of the top prospects heading into this years draft. Questions arose over Smiths leg, dropping his draft stock.
“He could be the best player in this draft,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said just before February’s combine, “and you’re probably going to have to redshirt him.”. The Cincinati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals both drafted players they didn’t expect to use in 2015, so it is realistic that a team could take a chance on Smith. “From what I know, and what I hear, and what’s realistic, you almost have to figure this is a redshirt year,” Kiper said. “To get anything out of Jaylon Smith this year would be a surprise. You’re not going to take him if you have to win this year, or else you’re gone, you’re in trouble. So you have to get a secure head coach.”.
Smith, who entered the draft as a junior, has a $5 million loss-of-value insurance policy and would have the possibility to collect on at least some benefit if he is not selected in the first round.