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Jaylon Smith: Breaking Down His Much Anticipated Return

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Star Studded Draft: Could Dallas' 2016 Class Be All-Time Great? 1

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The Dallas Cowboys took a huge risk when they decided to draft Jaylon Smith 34th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. There were a lot of other players available that could have made more of an immediate impact, but the Cowboys opted to go a different direction by drafting the talented linebacker out of Notre Dame.

Jaylon SmithThey were rolling the dice that he would be able to make a full recovery from the devastating knee injury he suffered in Notre Dame's Bowl game against Ohio State. Luckily, it is looking like the dice won't come up snake eyes, because he should be back to 100% for the 2017 season.

Smith's return to the field has been highly anticipated and has a lot of us anxiously awaiting to see how much he can help improve the Cowboys defense.

I thought that this would be a good time to break down Jaylon Smith's game to take a little bit of a closer look at what he brings to the Cowboys defense, and where he might need to improve.

I studied a lot of Smith's film and decided to use Notre Dame's game against the University of Texas in 2015 for this article, because of all of the different ways he was utilized on defense.

Let's first take a look at some of his weaknesses, because there's not very many.

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. BeirutWedding

    January 22, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    But when you say, “100%” you’re still not saying “the nerve is firing” (whatever that means), am I right?

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 22, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      The nerve in his knee is regenerating or “firing”. That basically means that there won’t be any nerve damage, which was the concern. Smith has also said he his close to returning to his 4.4 speed. Everything is pointing to him making a full recovery by the start of the 2017 season.

  2. dallas1966

    January 23, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Absolutely!!

  3. deal with it

    January 24, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I’m anxious to see the kid make it but knowing The DC’s 2nd round pick “luck” or history (whatever it is) I’m still reserved.Sean Lee was a 2nd rounder & it’s only taken 6 years to get him on the field for a full season.

    • jcobwebs

      January 24, 2017 at 8:32 am

      But he is SO WORTH IT!!!

      • deal with it

        January 24, 2017 at 11:58 am

        yep,but Sean Lee is the exception(al) to the rule.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 24, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Hopefully the Cowboys second round draft history is changing for the better. I’m really hoping Jaylon Smith succeeds.

  4. Arvelt

    January 25, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Great article! I am really excited about this kid. He looks fast enough to play safety! You need two legit linebackers in this league to have a good defense. I see the cowboys winning for years to come because of this draft class!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 25, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks for reading. It’s always good to get positive feedback. Hopefully the 2017 draft class is just as good as the 2016.

  5. Wilson Torres

    February 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    listen people jaylon smith is awesome he can cover he’s fast so we have two great linebackers we need a passrusher and a lock down cornerback get rid of carr

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

      I agree we need a dominant pass rusher. Unfortunately, they don’t grow on trees. They are hard to come by and come at a high price in free agency.

      • Wilson Torres

        February 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm

        brian do you think we should address a defensive end first or a lock down corner

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 9, 2017 at 3:28 pm

          The Cowboys need to stick to their board. If DE or CB is the top player on their board draft them. But, if a WR or TE is the higher rated player you kind of have to go that direction. Of course, there are tiebreakers where if similar ranked players are there, you go with the position of need.

  6. TD4SPORTS

    February 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I would love for Hitchens to excel in the middle and flank him with Smith and Lee

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      I think we will likely see Smith starting at MLB, Lee at WLB, and Hitchens at SLB.

      • TD4SPORTS

        February 12, 2017 at 12:01 am

        Yeah but imagine the speed on the outside if Hitchens could hold down the middle. It would be even better for them to be able to switch up in different looks and that would make our LB group Strong.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 12, 2017 at 9:12 am

          I like the idea of providing different looks with the linebackers, but I don’t know how well Smith would do is a strong side LB. Maybe an obvious passing situations where he could be used as an extra pass rusher.

          • TD4SPORTS

            February 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

            Yes, that”s it and he could be used like Davis in Carolina and Miller in Denver because we know MarinellI likes Flexibility. I feel throwing him in the middle taking on 300 lb linemen right now opposed to using his quickness against TEs would be a mistake.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 12, 2017 at 12:57 pm

            I think we will see Smith play the majority of his snaps at MLB. That’s what they drafted him to do, but that’s doesn’t mean they won’t use him differently in certain situations.

      • Wilson Torres

        February 12, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        we need a reciever

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

          Wilson, I completely agree with you. They will address this in the off-season.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 12, 2017 at 8:36 pm

            brian i was seeing this kid from usc adoree jackson conerback kick returner do it all kid wow bring him to dallas

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

            I like him, but there are a lot of other CBs I like better. Fabian Moreau (UCLA) is one of my favorites.

  7. Wilson Torres

    February 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    cowboys need to get rid of free williams carr

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Terrance Williams and Brandon Carr are both free agents. Doug Free is the only one still under contract.

  8. Wilson Torres

    February 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    brian tell me the truth do we need brandon carr he can’t cover a pregnant lady get rid of him williams to catches with his body not his hands we need a reciever cornerback get rid of free to he hold to mush and a passrusher

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 11, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      I would be opposed to bringing Brandon Carr back. I think he gets judged by the $50 million contract he signed. He is reliable and hasn’t missed a game in his entire career.

  9. Wilson Torres

    February 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    and move byron jones at cornerback and get a safety via free agency andscandrick is always hurt and gets beat alot

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      I actually believe that Byron Jones is better at safety. He made a lot of really good plays last season, but unfortunately everybody only remembers the bad ones. He will only continue to get better, especially if they can improve their pass rush.

      • Wilson Torres

        February 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        brian i understand he never misses a game but carr gets beat a lot and 1 interseption in 5 years come on we can do better and free he is another guy we need out holding penalties getting beat sack elliott ran a 65 yarder holding free come on forget he has a year left we got collins and cooper

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 11, 2017 at 8:22 pm

          I don’t disagree about Carr. I believe they will upgrade the CB position either through free agency or the draft. They can do that and still possibly bring back Carr for added depth at an affordable price. The only problem about getting rid of Free is there isn’t anybody to take his spot. Collins is a better OG and Cooper is a free agent. If Chaz Green can remain healthy it might be his job to lose.

      • Wilson Torres

        February 11, 2017 at 7:53 pm

        and scandrick better play better this year comimg up always hurt

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 11, 2017 at 8:24 pm

          Hopefully 32 can use the off-season and get healthy. I’m not sure he was ever fully healthy the entire year last season.

          • TD4SPORTS

            February 12, 2017 at 12:07 am

            We have got to upgrade the CB, RT, # 2 Receiver, and DE spots Period to have a chance at a SB.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 12, 2017 at 9:15 am

            It is going to be really interesting to see what the Cowboys do at right tackle. This draft class isn’t the best when it comes to offensive lineman. But, I do agree with you that all of these positions need to be addressed.

          • TD4SPORTS

            February 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm

            I think we should go after an Athletic LT in the draft that no one has high on their board in maybe the 6th round and move him to RT. A hidden gem could be found from a small School or maybe a pure RT that we have scouted early. I always feel Scouting is the most important part of the draft.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 12, 2017 at 12:58 pm

            I’m sure they will be doing their due diligence in researching all of these draft prospects. To me, scouting offensive lineman is the hardest of all of the positions.

  10. Wilson Torres

    February 12, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    get adoree jackson usc cornerback

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      February 13, 2017 at 11:46 am

      If he is still there in the third round and the Cowboys haven’t added a CB, Jackson would be a good option.

      • Wilson Torres

        February 13, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        alright brian you know the kid from florida ain’t bad either fabian moreau iamgoing to look him up

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          February 13, 2017 at 6:57 pm

          I’m not sure which Florida CB you’re talking about, Teez Tabor or Quincy Wilson, but I like them both.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

            brian the cowboys are talking smith as a pass rusher i don’t know maybe sometimes but he’s a solid linebacker we need to address that draft day or free agency we need a reciever for williams and a shut down corner wilson from florida if available

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 14, 2017 at 6:04 pm

            Using Smith as a pass rusher in certain situations makes sense, but I think he will be the starting MLB. This is a pretty good draft to find a WR to replace Williams. This draft is also deep at CB. I think the Cowboys can definitely find some rookies in this draft class that could start this season.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

            brian martin listen what do you think the boys need to do first in the draft a wideout or a passrusher or a couple of cornerbacks

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm

            I think they need to stick to their draft board and take the best player available. If you start drafting because of needs, then you’re passing up good players and that could end up getting you in trouble.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm

            brian this kid charles harris he’s got a lot f quicness and spins wow he’s what we need

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 15, 2017 at 6:06 pm

            Yeah, he looks like a nice player. I personally like Carl Lawson better.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm

            ———- Forwarded message ———-

          • Wilson Torres

            February 15, 2017 at 9:02 pm

            carl LAWSON TO SHORT

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

            He’s just an inch shorter than Charles Harris

          • Wilson Torres

            February 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm

            brian good evening listen i am a hard core cowboy fan listen we need to get this defense legit allright it’s been a long time one good thing we have we’re young so we have to get another reciever for williams we need a right tackle we need cornerbacks a passrusher unless tapper comes around and lawrence

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 17, 2017 at 6:11 pm

            I think it’s possible we see an upgrade to all of those positions.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

            brian listen who do you see pick 28 the boys taking let me know

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            February 18, 2017 at 7:04 pm

            It’s still way too early to even give an educated guess. Really need to see what they do in free agency first. Positions like CB, DE, WR, TE, and RT will all certainly be in play. Really just about any position except QB and RB.

          • Wilson Torres

            February 19, 2017 at 4:59 pm

            thank you brian i saw your picks for dallas it was good

  11. Wilson Torres

    March 1, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    brian good evening what’s up free agency is coming if we still have free we’re in trouble

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 1, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      The word is he’s contemplating retirement. He’s been serviceable, but they could definitely use an upgrade.

  12. Wilson Torres

    March 5, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    brian long time listen i’am hearing that terrall mcclain might not be back wow that will be a tough lost but free one more disaater year

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Terrell McClain seems to be receiving quite a bit of interest in free agency. We will have to wait and see what his market value is, but it looks like it will be unlikely he will return to the Cowboys. Personally, I think I’m okay with that. Cedric Thornton should be able to fill in nicely.

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Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.


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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.


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A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys

John Williams

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Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper was a game changing player from the moment he showed up at The Star in Frisco, Texas. In the first game against the Tennessee Titans, you could just tell that this was a different kind of player. The Cowboys hadn't had a wide receiver with his mixture of size and skill.

Cooper to me showed off the brilliant route running of Cole Beasley, in a body similar to Dez Bryant. Oh, and with 4.4 speed.

Electric.

But Amari Cooper's presence with the Dallas Cowboys may not have happened in 2018 if any one of a number of dominoes didn't fall during the 2018 offseason and regular season.

Shunned by Sammy

Early in the free agency period, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys had brought in Sammy Watkins and made him a lucrative offer that would have paid him around $16 million per year, but as Patrik Walker from 247 Sports discussed, he ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for more guaranteed money.

I recall first the feeling of dread when I heard about the pursuit of Sammy Watkins, immediately followed by relief when I saw that he signed with the Chiefs. I was in the midst of a government mandated internet blackout.

Don't get me wrong, Sammy Watkins is a fine player, but he isn't a $16 million per year player. Aside from his athleticism and size he doesn't really bring much to the table. He was pretty much a younger, and similarly injury prone -- at their respective points in their careers -- as Dez Bryant.

In 2018, Watkins only played in 10 games for the Chiefs and barely passed the 500 yard mark while catching only three touchdowns. Now, he's not the top priority in the Chiefs passing game, but he's not a player that can be relied upon to lead an offense.

Had the Cowboys signed Watkins last offseason, it's highly unlikely that they would have traded a 2019 first round draft pick to add another wide receiver in Amari Cooper.

Dez Bryant Goes Bye-Bye

The next thing that happened that may not have, was the release of long-time Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant had been with the team since 2010, when the team made him their first round pick that season. After post really good numbers from 2012-2014, Dez had a drop off in production, mostly due to injuries in the 2015-2017 seasons.

Dez Bryant, a fan favorite, was a player that relied upon his superior athletic ability, physicality, toughness, and ability to get passes in the air that made him special. Injuries to his legs and feet started to rob him of his athletic ability. Combine that with the fact that he and Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott could never really get on the same page when it came to fade routes, traditional or of the back shoulder variety.

Had the Cowboys not made the decision to move on from Bryant, the Cowboys offense would have probably been better the first seven games of the season. They may not have necessitated allocating a first round pick to acquire Cooper and it's possible he gets traded somewhere else or stays in Oakland altogether.

Poor Starts to the Season

The Oakland Raiders went into the 2018 season having made a lot of noise by signing Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. After a 1-5 start to their season, the fire sale continued as they put Amari Cooper on the trade block.

The Dallas Cowboys started the season 3-4, but looked much worse on offense than what we could have anticipated. We knew they would take a bit of a step back in the passing game as they were trying to work in new faces, but it was bad for the first seven, and really eight weeks of the season.

The Cowboys went into the season with a plan to use their wide receiver group as a committee to try and fill their needs with several players of varying skill sets. Sounds good in theory, but in practice it was a debacle. Receivers not named Cole Beasley, struggled to get open and the offense was listless through the first two months of the season.

Had either team been better than they were to start the season, the chance of a trade taking place would have been small. Teams like to think they can get by with what they have. Had the Cowboys been 4-3 instead of 3-4, they may have thought they could get by with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup as their lead receivers.

Trade Compensation

It was rumored that prior to the Dallas Cowboys sending their 2019 first round pick to the Oakland Raiders that the Philadelphia Eagles offered a second. The Raiders, who were looking to stock pile picks to rebuild, held out for the first they desired for their former 2x Pro Bowler.

Had the Raiders took the Eagles offer as the best offer on the table at the time, the Cowboys would have missed out on Cooper and likely missed out on the division and the playoffs in 2018. On the flip side, we know how much the Cowboys value their draft picks. We've seen them pass on game changing player who would have cost much less because they value their draft picks and believe in their ability to find difference makers in any round.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys were really fortunate to end up with Amari Cooper. If any of the above things goes differently, it's extremely unlikely that he's wearing a Cowboys uniform in 2018 at all. Now, coming off a 1,000 yard season -- in only 15 games -- and a Pro Bowl appearance, Cooper is set to get paid some big money by the Dallas Cowboys front office. As they get ready to pay Cooper upwards of $16 million a year or more, they should have only one thought on their mind for the good fortune that brought Cooper to Dallas;

Thankfulness. 


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