Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith suffered a devastating ACL and LCL tear in his team’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State that has led some to believe resulting nerve damage could lead to him missing the entire 2016 season.
During medical checks at the NFL Combine, these issues were discovered. Smith got re-checked Thursday, with those tests wrapping up Friday.
If he comes out of the tests with a more positive diagnosis, it could push the elite athlete back into the top 10, and that’s a big deal. In 2015, top-10 picks received at least $13 million with $7 million guaranteed. Players in the bottom of the first round got less than $10 million and $5 million in guarantees.
Recovery from an ACL tear can cause some pause in certain situations, much like UGA’s Todd Gurley last year. The major difference was Gurley didn’t show any of the nerve damage signs Smith has, pushing the odds against where Smith lands.
Gurley was selected No. 10 overall by the Los Angeles Rams.
Other players in the same board include projected top-5 pick Myles Jack, the UCLA linebacker who is recovering from a knee injury, and Clemson’s defensive end Shaq Lawson, who could go in the late first round if teams are comfortable he’ll have no lingering issues from an old shoulder injury.
We’ll find out where they land in just a few weeks.