The road back to the NFL has been a long and tumultuous one for Dallas Cowboys Edge Rusher Aldon Smith. Through a myriad of self-inflicted run-ins with the law and the NFL disciplinary system, Smith has found his way back into the league after a five-year hiatus.
After such a long layoff for the former All-Pro, it's hard to know what to expect when he resumes playing for the first time since 2015. While the expectations must be tempered a bit until we see Smith in action, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy is simply happy for the turnaround that Aldon Smith has achieved in his personal life and his professional life.
Speaking to the media, McCarthy mentioned that he had met with Smith several times in California and “always had a ton of respect for him.”
Mike McCarthy on Aldon Smith: "I'm just so happy for where Aldon is right now personally. He wants to get back professionally and be part of the football team and be productive. He's in great physical shape. He's bigger and stronger (than the last time he played)."
Interesting to note is the report that he's “bigger and stronger.” Per reports from Jay Glazer, who trained with Aldon Smith and has helped him on his road to sobriety, Smith is up to 287 pounds with very little body fat.
That's incredible size for a guy who was one of the strongest edge rushers in the last decade. On the way to becoming one of the most feared edge rushers in the NFL in the early part of the decade, Smith used his size and strength to bully tackles. John Owning of the Dallas Morning News provided an in-depth scouting report on Aldon Smith.
At 287 pounds, not only could Smith help on the edge, but in certain situations could flex inside and rush as a 3-technique defensive tackle. If Smith can get in game shape and up to speed rather quickly, he may find himself starting at one of the defensive end spots. With his size, the Cowboys wouldn't be giving up anything in run defense to have him and DeMarcus Lawrence bookending the defensive line. That ability to both rush the passer and play the run is what has kept Tyrone Crawford employed for so long.
Of course, the NFL has to get back to the practice field before we can begin projecting anything substantial for Aldon Smith in 2020. For Smith, just getting on the field will be a considerable achievement considering where his career was at the beginning of 2020.
Though expectations should be at a minimum at this point, to hear Mike McCarthy speak so glowingly about Aldon Smith provides an optimistic lens for which to view Smith's return. In Smith, the Cowboys got a low-risk, high reward player who could fill the shoes vacated by Robert Quinn in free agency.
If he's able to be half of the player he was back in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys will get a steal. The exciting thing is, he could be much more than the player the then Oakland Raiders got in 2015.
Who knows how the Dallas Cowboys investment will play out, but the future is looking bright for Aldon Smith with the Cowboys.