Jerry Jones’ opinion on Jaylon Smith hasn’t changed. The Cowboys owner said he still would draft the Notre Dame linebacker, even though the 2016 second-round pick didn’t play last season and still wears a brace for drop foot.
In fact, knowing what he knows now, Jones said he would use the team’s first-round pick this year on Smith if Smith were coming out.
“Everything that he’s about in terms of his competitiveness, in terms of his makeup, it’s off the charts,” Jones said Saturday. “We have every reason to think he’s going to come in and be an impact player. … I don’t know [what he can be], because I don’t know what his full potential is. We’ll never know, even if he’s not playing with the brace if he’s playing to his full potential from having had the injury. You never know that. On the other hand, I think he’s got a chance to be that kind of impact player that you would have expected with a first-round pick.
“Not one thing that I’ve seen or heard that if he was sitting there this year that we wouldn’t have run to use our [first-round] pick on him, at his health condition.”
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Smith tore his the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during Notre Dame’s bowl game Jan. 1, 2016. Damage to the peroneal nerve was more problematic.
Smith still wears an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). It is believed that no player at his position ever has played with an AFO.
But the Cowboys expect Smith fully to participate in the offseason program and play in 2016.
“We factually know and are optimistic about more that his feeling and nerves are improving,” Jones said. “We know that.”