Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith was universally viewed as a top draft pick this year, with some even saying he could go number one overall. This all came crashing down for Smith when he tore both his left ACL and LCL in his final collegiate game, the Fiesta Bowl. While Smith is no longer on teams' boards for Day 1, he could make for an opportunistic value pick for any team willing to take the plunge on the talented yet ailing linebacker.
Any team that chooses to take Smith should write off 2016 automatically. Smith won't play until his knee is 100% again, and that will likely mean that his rookie season will be a "redshirt" year. Beyond that, Smith's horizon remains unclear. "I also think he has a very good chance of getting his nerve recovery back," said Smith's surgeon, Dr. Dan Cooper. Despite the positive prognosis from the doctor, the fact that Smith failed multiple teams' medical evaluations at the combine isn't reassuring.
For what it's worth, Smith is very mobile just 3.5 months after operation.
Spent the day in Fort Wayne, Ind., with @thejaylonsmith, who's 3.5 months past knee reconstruction and doing this: pic.twitter.com/alivVQgtgu— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 23, 2016
It's a situation very reminiscent to that of both Marcus Lattimore and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, both high-profile draft prospects who crashed down draft boards after suffering leg injuries. If teams are considering the cases of these two when looking at Smith, then they won't feel very confident at all. Lattimore medically retired after being selected in the fourth round by the 49ers. He never played a snap. Ekpre-Olomu was a seventh-round selection of the Browns and is now with the Dolphins. He also has yet to play a professional snap.
We won't know how far Smith falls until draft day, but many think he could slide all the way to Day 3, specifically the fourth round. I'm not exactly for it, but if the Ravens have solid intel about Smith's knee, he wouldn't be the worst pick ever. It's pretty enticing to draft such a big talent so late, and if he heals, the Ravens would have the steal of the draft.