The Dallas Cowboys have always known to shock the world with blockbuster trades and signings. Yet, two years ago during round two of the 2016 NFL Draft, they stepped up their game by selecting linebacker Jaylon Smith with the 34th overall pick, despite medical reports he wouldn’t play again. Two years later, that gamble is still a huge question mark on the franchise.
Today, Smith has been an inspiration for anyone who follows his story. He constantly has a smile on his face, talks about his faith in God and watching his work ethic makes anyone want to get out there and work with him. He is so positive about the news around his injury; you start to believe whatever Smith has to say on the matter.
Just take a scroll on his twitter page, @thejaylonsmith where he promotes the hash tag, #ClearEyeView and quotes the Bible. The man could be a motivational speaker after he hangs up his cleats.
The problem here is that Smith isn’t a doctor and he really isn’t a reliable source to ask about his own progress. He will always give you a positive answer. The only real way to tell is to watch him play and so far in 2017, he wasn’t ready. The tape shows his inability to change directions, which is essential on passing downs trying to cover receivers. When opposing offenses see that on film they are going to exploit that and that is why Smith was forced to sit on many passing downs.
Now, on the bright side, Smith did seem to get better over the course of the season. His tackling got better, his instincts returned and he did show a bit of change of direction in his knees. Now, it wasn’t enough to leave it alone, but you have some hope going into 2018.
The real issue is whether or not to draft a linebacker in the first three rounds of the draft. The Cowboys are already linked to Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, even extending him an invite to Frisco. This makes sense because the depth right now at linebacker is dangerously thin. Sean Lee is already a 50/50 on whether or not he will play the entire season and Smith can’t contribute effectively on all downs. Behind them are just players that aren’t as good and better off playing on special teams. Quietly, linebacker has become the biggest need for the team in 2018.
You could argue that there are bigger needs at other positions including safety, receiver and guard, but Smith’s performance doesn’t give anyone believe that he can be a full-time starter in the NFL. Right now all you can do is hope he turns into something productive, but for now he is nothing more than a stop gap. So the Cowboys should and need to get linebacker early in this draft.
That is what happens when you miss on a pick; it hurts your team elsewhere and for years to come. Here’s hoping Jaylon Smith’s positivity sprinkles some good luck on the 2018 Draft for the Cowboys. It might be the best thing he can do for the franchise right now.
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