The Dallas Cowboys provided a jaw-dropping moment in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, when they decided to write linebacker Jaylon Smith's name down on their draft card.
Why in the world would they draft a linebacker so highly when there's a chance he may have to sit out the entire 2016 season?
If he can fully recover and become the player he was at Notre Dame, then the Cowboys would've drafted a player that is arguably the best defensive player in the entire 2016 NFL Draft.
Can you say draft day steal?
I for one am rooting for Jaylon Smith and I'm personally praying for a full 100% recovery. This goes beyond what he can potentially do on the field for the Dallas Cowboys. To me, it's more about seeing Smith win a battle that is completely out of his control.
I know a little something about facing a battle that is uncontrollable and completely out of your hands. I actually kind of feel a connection to what Jaylon is going through, having faced a similar situation myself.
You see, I was in an accident a little over 12 years ago in which I broke my C2 and C3 vertebrae and ended up being paralyzed from the chest down. So, I know what it's like to go through rehab trying to get the nerves to regenerate themselves and fire up once again.
There is absolutely nothing you can do to physically repair the damage and it takes a huge toll on you mentally, especially for someone like Jaylon Smith who has probably never faced a physical obstacle he couldn't overcome in his entire life.
It looks as if Smith will be able to make a full recovery from his anterior and lateral collateral knee injury, but it's his peroneal nerve that is the major concern. It prevents him from moving his foot from side to side or lifting it up and down. It is commonly referred to as drop foot.
There really is no timetable for when the peroneal nerve may recover, but based on my research I think I can give you a somewhat educated idea.
Nerves regrow at about 1 inch per month after a one month lag time and Jaylon Smith's injury area is approximately 6 inches above the muscle that was paralyzed when the peroneal nerve was damaged. Smith is approximately six months out of surgery and still has at the very least a few months of recovery time ahead of him.
Even though Smith still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, he has been soaking up as much information during the Dallas Cowboys OTA and mini-camp practices. He has also been putting in time in the weight room, but it's probably his attendance in the meeting rooms that have benefited him the most so far.
Jaylon Smith can only do so much because he is still limited to what he can do physically in the weight room and on the practice field, but the mental aspect of the game is something that he is taking very seriously.
In fact, with fellow linebacker Sean Lee also observing these OTA and mini-camp practices, Smith has been in his hip pocket and picking his brain every chance he gets. He has become Lee's second shadow and I can't think of a better mentor for him to learn how to prepare like a professional.
"You have a great group of guys in front of you, "Smith said. "I'm definitely learning a lot from Sean Lee, picking his brain each and every day. But for me, it's just learning the system, getting acclimated to my surroundings. When I'm back out there, it's going to be elite."
Sean Lee is almost like having another coach on the field, but a coach that is still currently playing the game and knows exactly how to prepare when recovering from an injury.
There may not be a better sounding board for Jaylon Smith to have at his disposal other than Sean Lee, and I can't tell you how much of a benefit that may be to Smith's recovery.
As fans, we are all hoping that he can get back on the field sooner rather than later, but it's a process that takes time and can't be rushed.
From what I've learned about Jaylon Smith, I'm absolutely positive that he has the right mental makeup and determination to do everything in his power to get back on the field, but it's an uncontrollable battle that he's facing.
How much are you hoping Jaylon Smith is able to make a full recovery?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to voice your thoughts and opinions. I look forward to discussing this topic with you further.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Cowboys Mock Draft: Dallas Adds Starters At 3 Positions
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Deep Dive: Inside the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 Salary Cap
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys Sign Converted QB Jason Thompson to Play Safety
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018
NFL Draft1 week ago
Star Defensive Talent Falls to Cowboys in Latest Round of Mock Drafts
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Blaine Gabbert Could Provide QB2 Competition for Cowboys
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
How Much Input Will Kris Richard Have in Cowboys Draft?
NFL Draft5 days ago
The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For