Hello. I’ve been writing for my own ‘blog for only a few months now (if you want to view some of my archived stuff, you can find it here) but I’ll be writing exclusively here now. However I’ve been playing amateur scout and arm-chair GM since I was an elementary kid. And I’ve been watching the NFL draft just as long and I probably started sharing my opinions even before I really knew what I was talking about…and after reading some of my stuff, I’m certain some of you will think I still don’t. Either way, thank you all for your attention; for reading, and thank you to James Clark and rest of the East Village Times for welcoming me to the team.
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LB Jaylon Smith had limited participation in Thursday’s Notre Dame Pro Day. He’s not ready yet for full participation in drills, running, or obviously, contact. But according to multiple reports he looked amazing. His worrisome limp that he had at the combine was gone.
During an interview with the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, it was reported that Smith is up about 12 lbs. (to 235 lbs. or so which was his playing weight, at the combine, post-surgery, he was down to 225). Impressively, he bench-pressed 225 lbs. 24 times.
Prior to Smith’s injury, he was in the discussion for the top overall pick in the draft. Smith’s NFL.com scouting report suggests that he could play any LB position in a 3-4 or 4-3. While some scouts may think that, Smith only has 4.5 combined sacks over his three-year starting career (3.5 as a sophomore, one as a junior). I do not question the athletic ability but sacking the QB is a skillset not an athletic threshold. Smith is as athletic as anyone (when healthy). But since he hasn’t been asked to rush the QB on a consistent basis it would foolhardy to suggest that he could just seamlessly transition into a full-time pass-rushing role.
I think Smith has elite potential in the NFL as long as he not asked to be a 3-4 OLB. If his drafting team utilizes him as 3-4 ILB or in a 4-3 he could be middle or outside ‘backer. Additionally he could help in pass defense as a hybrid LB/safety.
Since his knee injury was so severe (ACL, MCL, and nerve damage) he may not be ready to play in 2016. If his drafting team is willing to “redshirt” him they could have a potential star on their hands.
Smith will be going back to Indianapolis for a Scouting Combine medical re-check. Teams will still want their team doctors to go over his reports and do their own evaluations. Some doctors will be pleased with the progress and give him a positive medical report. Others will be very hesitant to put their name on a medical clearance. But it’s not just whichever team picks him gets a future gem. It is not a certainty that he’ll recover fully. Or if he’ll trust his recovery.
I don’t want to say the Chargers should draft Smith in the second, but his upside is so high, that it would make a lot sense if the team physicians were comfortable with his recovery. Also, as I stated above, if the team got any playing time out of him in 2016, it would just be a bonus.
Smith won’t be available by the time the Chargers pick in the third. In fact, because of the draft format (round one on first day, rounds two and three on second day, and rounds four to seven on day three) teams get antsy when players they like are still available at the starts of days two and three. The first pick in the second round is frequently traded because some team can’t sit still and is certain one of their rivals will trade up if they do not… It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some team trades up with Cleveland to get Smith.
Thanks for reading.