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Cowboys Second-Round LB Jaylon Smith Unlikely To Play In 2016, No Improvement To Damaged Nerve

ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that Cowboys second-round LB Jaylon Smith has experienced “no significant improvement” in his damaged nerve.

According to Werder, it’s unlikely Smith will play at all during the 2016 season.

Even so, the Cowboys are still confident that Smith will eventually play, and when he does “he’s going to have a 10-year career; we just don’t know when it will start,” per Werder.

Joel Corry points out that if Smith spends his rookie season on the non-football injury list, he won’t get a year of service for free agency, which means he would be a restricted free agent in 2020.

There were obvious concerns about Smith’s knee and how it would affect his NFL career leading up to the draft.

An NFL GM told Werder that it’s “50/50 he ever plays.” Meanwhile, an AFC head coach told Werder of Smith: “[He] will play again. Not this year. Probably not exact same level.

Smith, 20, was taken with the No. 34 overall pick by the Cowboys a few weeks ago. So much was made about the condition of Smith’s knee and how it could impact his NFL career, but the Cowboys still felt comfortable enough about his future to use their second-round pick on him.

Before he suffered the serious knee injury at end of last year, Smith was considered a to be a top-five selection, so if he’s able to return to form, the Cowboys could be looking at a blue-chip player in the middle of their defense for years to come.

According to OverTheCap.com, Smith receives a four-year contract worth $6,494,972 to go along with a signing bonus of $2,923,616.

During his college career at Notre Dame, Smith recorded 284 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three recoveries and 10 pass defenses for the Fighting Irish over the course of three years.