When the Cowboys selected Jaylon Smith in the second round of last year's draft, they did so with the future in mind. Well, that future is finally here.

On Friday, ESPN's Todd Archer reported that Smith is expected to start for the Cowboys against the Giants on Sunday night, which will complete his lengthy recovery from a major knee injury that forced him to miss his entire rookie season. If you were in search of a feel-good story, here you go.

Smith would've been a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but in his final game at Notre Dame, he suffered a horrific knee injury that included a torn ACL and MCL, and nerve damage. Knowing full well that Smith likely would miss all of 2016, the Cowboys still drafted him early in the second round at No. 34 overall. The selection was met with a lukewarm response considering the Cowboys were coming off a 4-12 season, needed immediate defensive help, and already used their first-round pick on a running back (Ezekiel Elliott). Now, though, that move looks genius considering the Cowboys are coming off a 13-3 season without Smith and they're getting him -- a first-round talent -- back for their 2017 season opener.

He's already won over his teammates.

"I'm extremely comfortable with him," Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said, per ESPN. "The type of work he's put in to come back, what he's looked like in the OTAs, what he's looked like in training camp, he's ready to play."

It wasn't an easy road back. I can't tell you how many stories we wrote about Smith's knee and the issue of his nerve "regenerating." Still, it was expected that Smith would be ready to play Sunday. In January, Smith said that he could've competed at an "elite level" during the playoffs while wearing a brace. It is, however, somewhat surprising to see him starting already, because it goes against what Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the end of August when Anthony Hitchens went down with a serious injury.

"We'll stick with our plan with [Smith]," the said. "We won't jeopardize a guy's future over anything like that, but as you know, Jaylon's coming along. The plan was all along was for him to be ready to play for the Giants. Are we going to throw him in there for 60-something plays? I don't think so, but a lot of that is just going to depend on what he's ready for. My guess is probably not."  

So much for that. Smith will start on Sunday. Regardless of how many snaps Smith is on the field for, Sunday will mark the end of a comeback that began in January 2016. On Sunday, Smith's NFL career finally begins -- just in case you needed another reason to watch the Giants and Cowboys battle.