The Cowboys took LB Jaylon Smith in the second round of the draft last year, and he didn’t play at all as he recovered from a knee injury. However, Jon Machota of the Dallas News reported that Stephen Jones recently said he’s doing very well, he’s continuing to improve, and the team is fired up to have him on the roster.
Stephen Jones on Jaylon Smith: "He's doing great. He's making great improvements. We're more fired up than ever we picked him last year."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 21, 2017
Smith may have been a top-five pick in the draft before the Notre Dame product blew out his knee in the last college football game of his career. He still headed to the draft and fell into the second round. Teams knew he was probably going to miss all of 2016, so they couldn’t afford to invest a first-round pick if they needed a starter. The Cowboys gambled with that later pick, hoping he’d eventually be the top-five player he once was – making him a steal in the second round.
The big issue for Smith is nerve damage. Despite the Cowboys’ optimism, it reportedly hasn’t improved. At the beginning of March, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote:
“Cowboys exec Stephen Jones was optimistic Jaylon Smith will be effective. Yet the nerve has seen ‘no significant change,’ source said…With Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith’s nerve not firing, he’ll have to play in a game with a brace for drop foot. Would likely be the 1st to do it…Cowboys reality now is they are no longer waiting for Jaylon Smith’s knee to fire. They’re proceeding as if it won’t & he’ll play anyway.”