Jaylon Smith: Dallas Cowboys Make Great Long Term Investment

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Former Notre Dame Linebacker Jaylon Smith will be taking a professional version of “a medical redshirt year.”

Smith will be out of football for 2016, as his recovers from nerve damage in his knee. Heading into the Fiesta Bowl, Smith was projected to be a sure fire top five pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Many draftniks had him the best overall defensive player on their big boards.

Some mock drafts had him going as high as #3, but the conversation drastically changed on New Year’s Day in Arizona. In the first half of the Fiesta Bowl he tore his medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments.

At first, his injuries and his outlook were compared to L.A. Rams/former Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on the day that Jaylon Smith declared for the draft:

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“I think he’s a generational player at his position. He’ll recover fine from (the injury). We saw (former Georgia and current Rams RB) Todd Gurley have an ACL and MCL (injury); obviously, it didn’t affect his status. The NFL will be lucky to get a young man like this.”

However, after more medical evaluation was conducted we learned that Jaylon had significant nerve damage to his knee.

Now we’re having a completely different discussion. As someone who’s suffered neuropathy in both his upper and lower extremities, and recovered from it, I can tell you that it’s totally up to father time to fix it.

In October of 2012, I couldn’t accelerate into a full sprint without falling down. I literally couldn’t run if my life depended on it. But by the next year I completed an indoor triathlon. So the cliches “time heals all wounds” and “father time is undefeated” certainly applied for me, but every situation is different.

The only common thread is time.

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At the NFL Network’s NFL Draft Media Luncheon I asked Steve Mariucci what the key to the former five-star recruit’s recovery will be.

“Time I guess, I don’t know, time, miracles, whatever it is,” Mariucci responded, “but he’s doing everything he can to rehab the muscles, and get his weight back and strength back and movement and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.”

“Isn’t it incredible that the two (best) linebackers in this draft have (severe injuries to their) knees and they’re young, they’re juniors. Someone’s going to take him and put him on the shelf, and redshirt him and hope and pray that thing comes around because if it does, you have a Pro-Bowler.”

Myles Jack of UCLA was the other linebacker Mooch was referring to, and he fell out of the first round last night. Jack has been out of action since September 23rd due to injury, but many mock drafts still had him in the top five up until a week ago.

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Mariucci was also put on that spot, asked by a reporter if he would take the Golden Domer if he were a NFL coach in a position to grab him in the middle rounds.

“Absolutely, in a heart beat, oh my God I love that kid,” the former San Francisco 49ers, Cal Golden Bears and Detroit Lions Head Coach said.

Jaylon Smith was selected very early in round two, 34th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. Myles Jack went just two picks later to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who traded up to go get him.

Another NFL Network Analyst, Curtis Conway, articulated what advice he’d give Jaylon Smith if he were in a position to do so.

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“I would tell him, yeah for pride and that first round money, you want to be a first round pick, but you’re a hell of an athlete. you’re going to get that money, on that next contract,” Conway said.

“So get healthy, get strong, show the NFL what everybody thought you were before you had the injury and you’ll be back on this field and you’ll be able to help someone else get through it.”

“That’s what it comes down to, getting healthy, getting on the field, showing what you can do, and getting that second contract and hitting that home run.”

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That’s an important point to remember.

Jaylon Smith went early in round two, but his NFL destiny could be more determined by his second contract, rather than this first one with the Dallas Cowboys.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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