The Dallas Cowboys have gambled on previous second round picks but Jaylon Smith may be the one to end the streak of busts.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith was taken out of Notre Dame in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys had high projections on Smith and some experts had him pinned as a top 10 selection. Yet an injury to his knee the final game of his senior season resulted in him falling in the draft.
The Dallas Cowboys 2016 draft has already been considered a huge success led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Sixth round corner Anthony Brown and third round defensive tackle Maliek Collins helped solidify the draft. With their ability to fill in seamlessly after injuries arose, they suddenly became core players.
Smith has finally taken the practice field in mini-camps and OTA’s and seems poised to have a productive season. If the young linebacker can live up to his pre-injury hype the Cowboys may have the best draft in history. Yet with Smith’s success may also come the end of sore spot for Cowboys’ executives.
Since linebacker Sean Lee was drafted in 2010, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had much success in the second round. Almost as if the NFL gods poisoned anything Dallas touched through the dreadful “second” round.
Former Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter was the first victim of the curse. Drafted out of North Carolina in 2011, Carter also came off a knee injury. After such high hopes the injury had caused his draft stock to fall into the second round. At the time the Cowboys were willing to take the risk to pair Carter with Lee in hopes of creating one of the best linebacker corps in the NFL.
Carter was a formidable player and had a few bright spots while wearing the star. Eventually the Cowboys declined to re-sign him after his rookie contract expired.
2012, The Cowboys decided to trade up in the draft and gave up their second round choice to get corner Morris Claiborne. In this case the second round curse leaked into the first round since technically the pick was part second rounder. Claiborne’s career in Dallas was littered with injuries and he never live up to his sixth overall pick.
After seeing the success of the New England Patriots and their two tight end system the Cowboys drafted tight end Gavin Escobar. Coming out of San Diego State Escobar was considered a talented pass catching tight end but a reach at pick 47. Lacking blocking skills and living in the shadow of the great Jason Witten, Escobar never had his chance to shine.
Desperate for an elite pass rusher, after losing DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys spent their next two second round picks on defensive ends.
DeMarcus Lawrence was drafted 34th overall in the 2014 draft, after the Cowboys traded up in the second round. Lawrence has yet to have an “elite” season, never reaching a Pro Bowl level. Lawrence is entering the final season of his rookie contract, with the addition of end Taco Charlton, it may be his last as a Cowboy.
Defensive end Randy Gregory was also expected to be a first round talent and owner Jerry Jones considered him a steal in the second round of the 2015 draft. But Gregory was hampered with an injury throughout his rookie season. His second season was wasted after failed drug tests led to back to back suspensions. Now facing a full season suspension, Gregory is on his last leg and may not see the field again.
After so many failed picks in the second round, history is not on Smith’s side. He has had an uphill battle, after nerve damage in his knee has raised many questions. But Jaylon has the character, elite talent and work ethic to rid the Cowboys of the second round curse.
The Dallas Cowboys have made their bed with a history of risky picks in the second round. Jaylon Smith will look to have a breakout season and not only end talk of the Cowboys’ second round curse in the draft but also the second round curse of the playoffs.