Name: Jaylon Smith
School: Notre Dame
Height: 6’ 2"
/ Weight: 223 LBs
2015 Consensus All-American
Bednarik Award Semifinalist
Butkus Award Winner
Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist
pSparq Score: DNP Z-Score:DNP NFL Percentile: DNP
Games Studied: Clemson, USC, Texas, UMass.
Jaylon Smith is the type of linebacker who is truly capable of playing all three downs because of his ability to cover running backs and tight ends underneath and down the field. He has the hip mobility to transition in coverage and run with backs or tight ends, and has the pure speed to stay in phase. Also shows quite a bit of promise as a blitzer who could be useful in this area as he develops as a pro, making him an even more complete player against the pass.
Possesses elite recognition and pursuit skills in the run game, with the elite playing speed to chase down runners sideline to sideline. Takes on blockers at the point of attack and the second level, but will also outrun them to the spot occasionally. He tracks runners extremely well as he navigates the trash inside, and closes at high speed which leads to lots of plays, but can also lead to some missed tackles because he doesn’t always get squared up. There are times when he will let blockers get into his frame and knock him off balance.
Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: Ultimately, for Jaylon Smith, everything hinges on the recovery of the damaged nerve in his leg. If that nerve wakes up and fires like normal again, Smith will be looked at as the single-biggest steal of the entire 2016 draft. If he returns to form he will likely be the long-time Cowboys starter at linebacker, and will be a cornerstone player in the run and the pass game for the long term.