Doctor says Jaylon Smith needs a year off, could recover fully

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Former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who was viewed as a potential first overall draft pick before suffering a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, will not play as a rookie. But there’s still hope he can be as good as ever by 2017.

That’s the word from his surgeon, Dr. Dan Cooper, who told USA Today that Smith is expected to take a “redshirt” season in 2016. But Cooper said both that Smith’s knee should become strong and stable, and that the nerve damage Smith suffered — which is a bigger concern than his torn knee ligaments — could fully heal as well.

“I also think he has a very good chance of getting his nerve recovery back,” Cooper said.

For his part, Smith said he still wants to play in 2016, although he acknowledges that would only happen if he gets 100 percent healthy. That seems unlikely, which means Smith is unlikely to be a first-round pick, and could fall all the way to the third day of the draft.

If Smith eventually gets completely healthy, some team is going to get a steal in the draft. If he never recovers completely, he could lead a lot of college football players to consider skipping their bowl games to keep themselves healthy for the NFL.

45 responses to “Doctor says Jaylon Smith needs a year off, could recover fully

  1. Lots of ‘could’, ‘a very good chance’ qualifiers about the nerve. I would have been more comfortable with a ‘should’ or ‘most likely’ qualifier.

  2. It’s really ridiculous to think that college kids are going to skip their bowl games.

  3. That sounds like a good idea for players. Just get a couple good games in and skip the rest of the season. Why play in those pesky big games? Why should any of us step out the front door in the morning if there is a fear something might happen? It’s called life. Risk vs. reward. Play to win. Greatness is not attained on the sideline.

  4. Its sad the kid got hurt but if he truly is a 1st round talent, then one of the elite teams who doesn’t necessarily need a player this year, can stash him on IR till next year.
    This is a perfect Patriot late round value pick. Bellichick has no problem taking a flyer on a guy and then releasing him if he doesn’t pan out. (see Dominik Easley)

  5. If this kid played at Florida, the Patriots would most certainly draft him with their first pick.

  6. Can’t he refuse to sign then re-enter the draft next year. A team might draft him in rounds 1-2 if his knee is repaired fully.

  7. Some team will spend a 4th round pick on him. I would. 4th rounders already have a tough hill to climb, why not get a first round talent, stash him and let him try to get healthy for next year?

  8. Fans take the Bowl games much more seriously than coaches and players. Most coaches spend the extra practice time looking at returning players, evaluating the next year’s team.
    The players entering the draft are well into that process, by then. In most cases, a postseason game is taken less seriously than a preseason game in the NFL.
    If the team isn’t in the playoffs, skipping the game would not be wrong. You have completed your last meaningful game for the school.

  9. Thank you for not going off on a socialist rant about rich people and college students not getting paid cash and all that nonsense.

  10. Feel terrible for this kid and I’ve tossed it around a lot and landed at this:

    His prognosis is far from rosy but I think if you’ve nailed your biggest needs in Rds 1 through 3, you look at him in the 4th. Unless you have one of the 4 or 5 best teams in the NFL you need to focus days 1 and 2 on acquiring 1st year contributors and it would be very hard to justify leaving a guy on the board on Thursday or Friday who could help you this year. By the 4th rd though you’re getting to the territory of guys who will either need at least a year before they can get on the field or may never pan out at all. At that point you’re not gambling any more with Jaylon than you are with a lot of other kids you could take, especially knowing he is as “clean” as it gets character wise.

  11. I wouldn’t mind Bill spending the Pats compensatory 3rd rounder on him. Worth the risk to me. It will give those poor, unfortunate haters something to feed on as well.

  12. Think Notre Dame makes some money with its football program?
    Pay the college players! This is one reason they should be paid.

  13. To me, using a 3rd round pick on him makes sense. According to the NFL standard, often you could trade a 3rd round pick this year for a 2nd next year. This kid has Top 5 talent – so take him in the 3rd, let him spend a year attending meetings, learning the playbook and rehabbing with your medical staff, then let him see the field in mini-camp next May. 3rd for a potential Top 5 pick, just have to wait a year? Yes please.

  14. The surgeon that performed the operation is saying things like “could” and “good chance”. That’s music to my ears because I’m really hoping this kid will get a chance to play. However, it would be hard for a GM to take a risk. I think a team with an owner involved, like Dallas or Cincinnati, will end up taking him. Owners won’t fire themselves if he doesn’t recover, but it could land a GM on the hotseat. Having said all that, I think Howie Roseman takes him in round two.

  15. With two back-to-back picks in the second, if he is still on the board; the Patriots will definitely choose him. Smith, Collins and Hightower would be the best group of (young) linebackers in the NFL.

  16. If I’m this kid I’m on the next flight to Germany for whatever treatments I can get my hands on before the draft and make sure everyone knows I took the trip. Regenokeen, HGH, pump me full of everything you’ve got Peyton Manning style.

  17. The same thing happened to Jesse ‘The Monsta’ Williams who was selected by Seattle in the 5th round of the 2013 draft. Williams was expected to be a first round pick until he injured his knee in the SEC Championship game. He sat out the 2013 season and then re-injured the knee prior to the 2014 season and missed a second year. The Hawks finally waived him in March, 2015. He never played a down.

    Marcus Lattimore is another example of how this seldom works out. The Niners selected Lattimore in thr 4th round of 2012, paid him $2.4 million and cut him in 2014 with him never playing a down of football. Lattimore’s knee was shredded and had nerve damage just like Jaylon Smith.

    A lot of teams will have Jaylon Smith on the Do Not Draft list.

  18. I hope he is considered by my team: This kid is a wonderful player who is not done by any means. If you wait on him, you just might have a true “steal”.

  19. It was jaylons first time ever being injured lattimore tore his knee three too five times over his last too years at Carolina ,Big difference Jaylon is a freak .

  20. Lions will take him with comp pick at end of 3rd to replace Levy in a few years, or maybe he is there in early 4th when they pick but I doubt he lasts into the 4th with this report

  21. I have nerve damage myself, and can say it will heal back in time. The question is will he be the same player?

    He is a hard worker, he has a nation praying for him, and his character is as good as gold. He has the heart and attitude to get back. He may never be as good as he once was, but he could still be a solid player for years to come. Guys come back and with the type of medical doctors we have these days I don’t count anyone with heart out.

  22. maverick2560 says:
    Apr 23, 2016 9:19 AM
    Think Notre Dame makes some money with its football program?
    Pay the college players! This is one reason they should be paid.
    He did get paid – big bucks too – That university gets 40K per year from other students but this fellow got 4-5 years for free. That’s equivalent to somebody who works full time for $20/hr. but those people don’t have a college education when they’re done. Jayon does.

    There are plenty of people on this site who don’t make that much money.

  23. Now that he’s out for the 2016 season he would be a fool for signing with anybody who drafted him after the second round. The money really drops off after that point.

    So if he gambles on himself he refuses to sign, gets healthy, and goes into the draft next year. He could have his own pro day or join the ND 2017 pro day players. If he looks good as new he jumps back up as a 2017 first rounder. That money and signing bonus would be far and away much more than the scrub money he would get as a 3rd or lower round pick this year.

    See Bo Jackson

  24. no good dr is going to guarantee anything,what game he shredded his knee in is unimportant,what matters is that this kid gets a shot in the nfl

  25. I don’t know if he had an insurance policy, so I don’t know if he gains anything by not signing. To me, as many draftees as there are that flame out, any pick 3rd round or later used on him are a plus. He cant pass a physical now, so he goes on the pup list instead of having to join the practice squad.

    With the exception of Lattimore and Ekpre-Olomu, most of the injured guys that got drafted have made it.

  26. Talk like this will lead to schools picking up insurance coverage for loss of value.. Protect the athletes. Actually the NCAA should be paying that premium…..

  27. Universities ought to have to pay for an insurance policy on all their starters in bowl games based on what round the players are projected to be drafted (they already do this work to advise the players looking to come out early). And Taylor Decker should have to pay Jaylon the difference in what he would have made as a top 5 pick, and where he ends up getting drafted — COMPLETE cheap-shot AFTER the play was over when he sustained the injury.

  28. stealthscorpio says:
    Apr 23, 2016 7:58 AM

    The last comment about skipping bowl games is crazy talk.
    I agree. Written by someone who obviously never played on a meaningful team. Big games are even more exciting to play in than to watch. Even if it’s just for a H.S. state title or something.
    Is Football a business? Yes. Does it still have all the allure of high competition and the thrill of testing oneself against the best? Yes.

    Someone who taps out for financial reasons isn’t a guy you want slugging it out with you week in week out.

  29. Good point about college players skipping bowl games. Maybe middle schoolers should skip playing in their high school and college games so they don’t hurt themselves before the NFL?

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