In a surprise pick, the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith with the #34 pick, the third pick of the second round. Smith was a top five type talent that fell down the board after a gruesome knee injury put his career in jeopardy. He is likely going to be unable to play in 2016, a gamble given the Cowboys needs on defense this season. If Smith recovers from his knee injury, the Cowboys got a steal, people compare him to guys like Luke Kuechly. He's a fast linebacker that can go sideline to sideline and he doesn't need to come off the field, he's a three-down guy.
The Cowboys team doctor performed the knee surgery on Smith, and the hope is the nerve damage will regenerate and he will recover fully. Still, it's a gamble from a franchise that has never been shy of taking a gamble.
SOURCES TELL US "He reminds me so much of DJ (Derrick Johnson) when he came out. Same frame, same speed and same playmaking ability. Both of those guys are made for the pro game." -- Former AFC defensive coach
NFL COMPARISON Derrick Johnson
BOTTOM LINE In this day and age of "tweeners" being labeled "hybrid" players, Smith is the rare commodity who is truly hybrid in the sense that he has the athleticism, speed and physical makeup to play any linebacker spot in either the 3-4 or the 4-3. Smith was productive but slightly miscast in the middle of the Notre Dame defense and is better suited to play in space as a 4-3 outside linebacker. However, his length and upfield burst could draw the attention of a 3-4 team looking to transition him into a rush linebacker while utilizing his rare cover skills. News regarding Smith's injury and potential issues surrounding recovery have created doubt regarding his draft stock and his final landing spot will be determined by a team's medicals. Without the injury issues, he's one of the top player's in this draft.
Cowboys draft picks:
(Round-pick in the round-overall pick)
1- 4- 4 Dallas - Ezekiel Elliott
2- 3-34 Dallas - Jaylon Smith
3- 4-67 Dallas
4- 3-101 Dallas
4-37-135 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-14-189 Dallas from Oakland
6-37-212 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-41-216 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-42-217 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)