When the Dallas Cowboys selected former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, it came as a pretty big surprise. Smith was considered one of the handful of best prospects in the draft up until he suffered a traumatic knee injury in Notre Dame's bowl game -- an injury that was expected to knock him into the later rounds of the draft. Dallas, though, took the plunge pretty early.
The Cowboys have thus far refused to rule Smith out entirely for the 2016 season, even though the nerve in his knee is not yet firing correctly. On Wednesday morning, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that there has been "no significant improvement" in Smith's nerve, and that it's unlike he plays at all during the 2016 season.
Werder elaborated on the report with quotes from a couple GMs as well as one from the Cowboys' camp.
One NFC GM on @thejaylonsmith at draft: "50/50 he ever plays." AFC HC: "Will play again. Not this year. Probably not exact same level."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) June 29, 2016
The Cowboys are confident in their diagnosis because it was their team physician that did Smith's surgery. It's certainly possible that they have better information on his status than other teams because of that, but it's also true that nerves are unpredictable.
Nobody knows when or if it will start firing correctly again. If that happens soon, the Cowboys could have gotten themselves a steal. (And considering the holes in the Cowboys' defense, they badly need a player like Smith to help paper over them.) If it never happens, they'll have wasted a second-round pick at a time when they are trying to win immediately.