I love the Cowboys draft last year - every single thing about it. Sometimes I think about tearing down my Cindy Crawford poster and replacing it with a huge printout of those first six draft picks.
Isn’t it beautiful?
Of course, as remarkable as last year’s draft has turned out to be, it hasn’t always been met with open arms as it’s taken a while for some people to give it their stamp of approval. One of the big reasons for such reluctance was the selection of Jaylon Smith in the second round. There were many fans who were outraged that the team would squander such a valuable draft resource on a player that may never see the field. And it wasn’t just that part of it, but also the fact that there were some other enticing choices that a lot of people liked. Two players in particular that fans were waving their fists in the air over were Myles Jack and Noah Spence.
Despite also having an injury flag affixed to his name, Jack was still a popular choice for Cowboys fans. He may have been a risky pick at four, but he looked like super fantastic value at 34. And then there was Spence, who was completely healthy, but had a flag as well, only his was a character risk because of drug issues in college.
All three of these players would typically be top 10 choices had it not been for these red flags. And as we fast forward almost a year later, do you feel any differently about the Cowboys decision to take Smith? Both Jack and Spence played last season so they now have a body of work for which to judge.
Both Jack and Smith were the two standout linebackers coming out of college. Jack was actually ranked pretty high until news came out about his knee being worse than originally thought. He went from a top five prospect to completely falling out of the first round.
Initially, it looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars made out like bandits when the Cowboys passed up on Jalen Ramsey in the first round and then Jack in the second. Many Cowboys fans were upset that the team passed up on two impact defensive players and gift wrapped them for Jacksonville.
While Ramsey played okay, Jack was a big disappointment. He didn’t play terrible, but the problem was that he just didn’t play. The Jags would use him sparingly by only playing him in 239 snaps throughout the 16 game season. His numbers were minuscule as he only had 21 tackles and ½ sack. If Jack is expected to be a star in this league like many proclaimed, then he’s got a lot of work to do because from what he’s displayed so far - it’s just not cutting it.
If the Cowboys would have drafted Spence in the second round, fans would have declared the front office insane. After two straight seasons of drafting a pass rusher in the second round who’s gotten suspended for drug use, why in the world would they roll the dice again? That may have been the mindset of the front office and explain why Spence’s name was nowhere to be found on their leaked draft board, however he could have been one of the eligible names we couldn’t read.
But as luck would have it, Spence would keep his head on straight and have a great rookie season for Tampa Bay. He flashed some of the potential that had him slated as one of the top college edge rushers based strictly on talent alone. He played in a total of 566 snaps and recorded 5 ½ sacks. He was limited by a shoulder injury and struggled at times in the running game, but overall it was a strong rookie campaign.
A player like Spence would give Cowboys fans something to be excited about going forward, but you can’t blame the organization for not being interested.
The 32 thousand dollar question since the Cowboys made such a bold selection by drafting the injured Smith was – will that infamous perennial nerve strike? And the answer is – Yes!
Smith is on the road to recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered a year ago. The nerve is regenerating and he has been a rehabbing fool. While there wasn’t any serious thought of Smith contributing in 2016 (unless you’re the optimistic, Jerry Jones), forfeiting a season is a small price to pay to get a player as talented as Smith. The linebacker from Notre Dame is such a gold-star character guy and that has played a huge part in his ability to work through his rehabilitation regimen. He’s relentless and he’s been extremely committed to getting his body ready so he can return to the field to reward the team that took a big chance on him.
He has been tweeting out several videos that show how well he’s moving and each one is better than the next. Here’s his most recent one.
And our ol’ pal rabblerousr re-tweeted this little nugget of information...
If healthy, Jaylon Smith would be No 2 on my board behind Myles Garrett. https://t.co/xTz1FtMpfH— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 15, 2017
Good things come to those who wait.
Knowing what you know now, who would you rather have – Jaylon, Myles, or Noah?