Heading into his first healthy season, expectations are heaping on Dallas Cowboys second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith. But can he deliver?
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round last year, expectations were that the linebacker would be ready to contribute in year two after a gruesome knee injury. While that plan seems to be on track, it’s still fair to wonder whether or not fans (and teammates) may be relying too much on a guy that hasn’t even taken the field in a professional contest yet.
Smith is no doubt a talented player– he was expected to be a top ten selection had it not been for his horrific knee injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game. While it seems like he’s on pace to make a full recovery, at one point, one unnamed NFL GM went as far to say there’s a “50/50 chance” that he’ll ever play a down in the NFL.
While that clearly doesn’t seem to be the case, it should still be a cause for some concern. When it comes to nerve injuries, nothing is guaranteed, and Smith is all but certain to have to wear a special boot next season. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be hopeful for Smith for the 2017 NFL season, but rather, we should temper expectations somewhat.
Despite these concerns, Cowboys free safety Byron Jones, had this to say about Jones on NFL Total Access…
"“He’s healthy, he’s 100 percent,” Jones told NFL Network’s Total Access this week. “His mind — he doesn’t worry about what happened two years ago. He doesn’t care about that. What he’s trying to do, I think his motto is clear-eyed vision. He’s doing well at that. He’s balling out for us so far. He’s learning the playbook and he looks healthy running around.”"
While this is certainly music to Dallas Cowboys’ fans ears, it’s still important to not put too much pressure on the young linebacker. While Smith could certainly prove me wrong, it’s in our best interest to give the kid some time to develop. With the losses of key defenders Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, and Brandon Carr, Smith is expected to be the savior the Cowboys defense needs. But it’s only fair to play that by ear– at least for now.