What if I told you that possibly the best player on the Cowboys defense has never played a snap of professional football? What if I told you that Jerry Jones just recently tabbed him as The Triplets along with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott? Jaylon Smith was widely regarded to be a top defensive player entering the 2016 NFL Draft but he suffered a horrible knee injury and tore his ACL and LCL in the final collegiate game of his career. As a result, his draft stock dropped, he collected on an insurance policy and he fortunately fell into the lap of the Dallas Cowboys early in the second round.
What made Jaylon Smith such a star at Notre Dame?
He is immensely talented and incorporates the best of each position - he runs like a wide receiver, tackles like a linebacker and has the strength of a lineman. His speed is unquestionable and will be important as the Cowboys continue to face speedy receivers, quick running backs and agile tight ends in the competitive NFC. What will likely separate Jaylon from his peers is how cerebral he is and the kind of work ethic he possesses. While this does not repair nerve damage in the knee, it stands as an important asset as the front office continues to seek high character guys.
In 2016, Jaylon Smith was a Consensus All-American and was awarded the Dick Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. Can Jaylon Smith be better than Sean Lee? Only time (and endurance) will tell. Pairing Smith with Sean Lee will give the Cowboys the best linebacker tandem they have had since DeMarcus Ware’s glory days regardless of who played alongside him (an injured Sean Lee, a semi-productive Anthony Spencer or an aging Keith Brooking). More importantly, having a solid linebacker corps will offload pressure on the secondary and will provide additional support against the run.
It’s been a while since Smith has been on the field playing ball, so long that we can kind of forget how good he is as a linebacker. So let’s refresh:
Sean Lee with Jaylon Smith in 2017? Beastly!