The Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith with their second round (No. 34 overall) selection on Friday night. Find out more about him below:
Height, Weight: 6-foot-2, 223 pounds
Rankings: Scout.com ranks Smith as the No. 12 overall player on the board, and the No. 2 linebacker on the board.
The skinny: Smith started three years at Notre Dame, spending his freshman year as a part-time starter and spending the past two seasons as a 100-plus tackle performer in the Irish defense. Smith was selected as a consensus All-American last season and won the Butkus award, the nation's top linebacker award, at both the college and high school level.
What Cowboys are getting: When healthy, Smith is considered a linebacker that doesn't have to come off the field in special situations. At Notre Dame he prove to be a backer with above-average quickness, great lateral movement and instinctual play. He was usually the fastest linebacker on the field, no matter which team the Irish played. The debits are minor. Scouts want him to work on getting a little stronger at the point of attack, worried that at 223 pounds he could get pushed around a bit in the NFL. He also missed a few more tackles last season than elite linebackers do at the college level.
CowboysHQ.com Grade: C (grade takes into account Smith's injury and his lack of availability for 2016).
Postins’ Take: I was at the Fiesta Bowl last season and was looking forward to seeing Smith play. That lasted eight plays. On the ninth Smith destroyed his knee, tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee. Plus, there is some nerve damage that requires the nerve to regenerate itself. Smith is optimistic, but this all but assures that he won't play in 2016. And that's why I have to give the Cowboys a C here. There were potential targets on the defensive line, even though the two players they seemed to covet — Emmanuel Ogbah and Kevin Dodd — were gone. The Cowboys may have drafted a future star, but they also drafted a player that will not help them in 2016, and for a team that still has gaps at defensive line and secondary, that's awfully risky. I'm not as worried about the nerve damage as I am about the multiple ligaments being torn. Tearing the ACL and the MCL at the same time can be risky from a recovery standpoint, in my opinion. The Cowboys did have an advantage as their orthopedic surgeon, Dan Cooper, did the procedure on Smith. So if the doctor is comfortable, then the team brass surely is too. Without the injury, Smith is a lock for the Top 10. He jumps off game tape. His playmaking ability when healthy is remarkable. At 223 pounds, he sounds undersized, but he's actually perfect for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's system. Backers can play that light in his system and succeed, especially on the weak side. This is clearly a case where the Cowboys graded Smith without taking into account his injury, likely meaning he had a first-round grade on Dallas' board.
Dallas Cowboys 2016 NFL Draft Conference Call with LB Jaylon Smith 4/29/16
(On if he was surprised to hear his name called at No. 34) - “Just a great opportunity for me. I just wanted to hear my name called and for it to be called early, it’s just a blessing. I’m thankful right now.”
(On if he knew the Cowboys like him) - “Yes. It definitely helps when their team doctor performs the surgery. So I’m very thankful.”
(On where he is in his recovery) - “For me it’s just progressing each and every day. I’ve been running for three and a half weeks now. It’s just a progress and time is definitely a place where you have to be patient. I’ve been killing it.”
(On why so much emotion when the pick was made) - “Because just everything I’ve been through thus far. It’s been the most challenging time of my life, but at the same time it’s been the best time of my life where my dream has just come true. I’ve been wanting to play in the NFL since I was seven years old. For 13 years. It’s just a blessing.”
(On why the best time and not a lost opportunity with predicted projection and play status) - “Because I’m going to be fine. I’ll be able to play again. It’s just timing. Timing is everything and for Dallas to draft me, they’re going to get a great player. I’m looking forward to playing for a great team.”
(On what Jerry Jones and Coach Jason Garrett say on the phone call) - “They were just astounded by my play and my work, how I’ve handled everything and they’re just welcoming me to the team.”
(On if there’s a chance he can play in 2016) - “Absolutely. Never doubt God.”
(On how often he gets tested for the nerve and how are the ligaments) - “I get different sensations everyday with the nerve, but it’s just a timing thing. I’m only three and a half months out, so time will definitely tell, but the knee is fine. That was cleared at the medical recheck that the knee won’t have any issues. But it’s just a timing thing for the nerve. It’s too early in the process to tell.”
(On what was the recovery time the doctors gave him after surgery) - “There’s no recovery time because this is a process where we’re relying on God to do his work. We have to be patient and you know the nerve can come back tomorrow. It’s just a timing thing. Whenever it wants to come back, it’ll come back.”
(On why he picked Dr. Cooper to perform the surgery) - “I trusted in my team doctors at Notre Dame and then also some good advice from the great Eugene Parker.”
(On what he’s asked his brother, Cowboys running back Rod Smith, about playing for Coach Garrett) - “Just how well he is; how great he is as a coach. Very player oriented, he loves his guys. We’ve had long talks about my brothers first year in the NFL and for me to be able to play with him is an honor.”
(On when was the last time he played with his brother if ever) - “We’ve never been able to play together in our entire lives. My freshman year of high school I started varsity but I went to Bishop Luers, a Catholic High School, and Rod was a senior at Paul Harding High School. So we played against each other. Obviously my team won.”
(On how much it will help to get acclimated here with him) - “It will because he’s been through it. He knows the organization so he’ll be able to kind of show me the ropes, we’ll get the hang of things, and it’s going to be a great year.”
(On what are the Cowboys getting when he is healthy) - “They’re getting a heck of a player. A guy who knows his football IQ, very intelligent, but also a playmaker. That’s something that I’ll be able to compliment, be able to pass rush, both sideline to sideline. Looking forward to playing with Mr. (Sean) Lee.”
(On how Sean Lee isn’t that old) - “But I’ll look up to him so much. Lot of respect.”
(On if he expects to get involved immediately like the rest of the rookies) - “Yes, it’s just a timing thing. I come right in, I’m ready to go tomorrow or whenever they want me there. Yeah, definitely ready to get acclimated and it’s going to be some great years in Dallas.”
(On how much contact he had with the Cowboys’ coaches and scouts) - “Definitely some of the scouts. I forget their names, but just from checking in and seeing how rehab was going.”
(On where he is) - “We’re in Fort Wayne, Indiana.”
(On where the party is at) - “Yeah, well I’m a huge bowler. I’m great at bowling. I love bowling. But we’re at a bowling alley, a private bowling alley and they also have a golf course. It’s called Lakeside Golf Course and Bowl.”
(On if his brother is with him) -“Yeah, he’s right here actually.”
(On if Rod is a good bowler) - “No, he’s horrible!”
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