A man who would have been the No.1 player on most experts big boards, if not for a horrific knee injury, just fell to the Dallas Cowboys at 34th overall. That man is Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith.

Dallas Cowboys
(USA TODAY Sports)

No one has ever doubted Smith’s football playing ability, character or IQ, but some medical personnel wonder if he will ever be the same player again. The Dallas Cowboys obviously think he will. Their team physician Dr. Dan Cooper was the surgeon who actually repaired Smith’s knee, so they have inside knowledge not only of the surgery, but the rehab that has taken place since.

The Cowboys front office believes Smith will have a 10-year NFL career, they just are not sure when it will start says ESPN’s Ed Werder.

This pick won’t pay off until after 2017, but the Cowboys were already planning for that even if Jaylon Smith wasn’t the pick. Dallas was rumored to be attempting to trade back into Round 1 last night for QB Paxton Lynch, who would have definitely sat on the bench for at least one year behind Tony Romo, and likely longer.

If he recovers and sees the field in a Cowboys uniform, he instantly upgrades their defensive unit and creates a solid linebacking duo with Sean Lee. Smith is the latest “value” pick for the Dallas Cowboys who drafted Randy Gregory in the 2nd Round last season after a momentous slide (although that has not paid off yet, and he will be serving a 4-game suspension to start 2016).

Jaylon Smith notes:

Smith became the second player to win both the high school and college Butkus Awards as the nation¬ís top linebacker, joining former Notre Dame star Manti Te’o, by leading the Irish with 113 tackles, nine of which went for losses. It was the second straight season Smith topped the defensive stats chart in tackles (112) and made nine TFLs.

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