After suffering a major knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is a bit of a wild card heading into the draft. If healthy, many scouts believe he would have been a potential first overall pick. At the time of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Smith was walking again but it remains to be seen if he will be recovered in time to play this upcoming season.
In terms of Smith as a player, he led the Irish with 113 tackles, nine of which were for loss, and five pass breakups during the 2015 season. He was a consensus All-American and named the 2015 Butkus Award winner, which recognizes the top linebackers at the high school, college and professional levels. Smith became the second player ever to win the award in both high school and college.
At 6-2, 223 pounds, scouts believe Smith has the ability to play any linebacker spot in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, but his final landing spot will surely be decided by teams’ medical evaluations of the injured knee.
Scouting Report From NFL.com
“Angular, sinewy build with a body fat number you could count on one hand. Checks every size, weight, speed and athleticism box there is. Can sink hips and change direction with suddenness in space. Has length and quickness for extended playmaking radius. Racked up 225 tackles over his last two seasons as a starter. Lightning quick lateral scrapes from gap to gap following track of the ball. Able to transition from scrape to spring seamlessly. Has a turbo boost to race running backs to the corner. Tries to meet oncoming blocks with physical punch and desired arm extension to stay clean. Adequate speed to diagnose and respond. Play speed is elite for the position. Very talented in man coverage. Asked to take on challenging man coverage responsibilities and responded. Has tools to become an excellent blitzer.” – Lance Zierlein
What He Said
“I’m hoping to go top 10. I view myself as the best player in the draft, you know? It’s just a matter of waiting and enjoying the process and controlling what I can control.” – Jaylon Smith on how the injury will affect his draft stock