Can Jaylon Smith up his draft status in round two?
Jaylon Smith is one of the most talented players in the 2016 NFL Draft, but his road to recovery after his knee injury has teams questioning when he will be ready and whether he is worth spending a high draft pick on.
Somebody will gamble on Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the 2016 NFL Draft. It’s just a matter of when.
After Smith’s appearance at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine and the possibility of nerve damage following his knee injury, Smith quickly fell down draft boards. A player considered a near-lock to be the first or second linebacker off he board in the first round, Smith has taken a tumble in mock draft after mock draft.
As an example, prior to the combine, Smith was going at 14th overall to the Oakland Raiders in a four round NFL.com mock draft by Chad Reuter. A few weeks later, prior to the combine, Reuter again had Smith going high, but this time to the Chicago Bears at 11th overall. Mock draft 3.0 by Reuter (post-combine) saw Smith tumble to the top of the second round, being scooped up by the Baltimore Ravens at 36th overall. Reuter followed that up with version 4.0 in which Smith tumbled further to 43rd overall to the Los Angeles Rams.
For one of the premiere talents in the 2016 draft, that isn’t good news.
But there is some more recent good news to come about for Jaylon Smith.
In the pro day coverage across the nation, NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread highlights Smith’s recovery. In particular, “[Smith] told NFL Media’s Mike Mayock he is already leg pressing more than 600 pounds and squatting more than 400 in the weight room as his recovery continues.” That is a good sign, especially with teams wary about just when Smith would be able to get back to full strength and begin his return to being a top young linebacker.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who pick at 38th overall at the top of the second round, would be wise to keep Jaylon Smith in their mind. Even if Myles Jack, the draft’s other top linebacker, falls in the Jags’ lap at fifth overall, the ability of Smith makes him worth considering as a long-term option early in the second round as well.
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Jaylon Smith’s path to the NFL has recently hit a speed bump, but he will still generate enough interest to draw someone to take him in the second round. He has plenty to offer and if he’s able to showcase his recovery further in a couple of weeks, his value may even jump back into the first round.
Then again, someone like Reuter may post another mock draft with Smith tumbling even further.