With medical red flags and question marks surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, is he worth the risk for the Buccaneers?
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The Buccaneers may want to take a chance come day three of the NFL draft. Jaylon Smith, who was a consensus top pick in this year’s draft, was devastatingly injured in the Fiesta Bowl when he tore his ACL and MCL. Smith was the leading tackler for the Irish and won the Butkus award for most outstanding linebacker. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported there’s already no chance Smith plays this season;
That report, as awful as it is for Jaylon Smith, is not going to deter a team from taking a chance on him. Much like we saw with Marcus Lattimore, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the reward greatly outweighs the risk. So, when would, or should, the Bucs take that chance?
Odds are, a team that takes the risk on Smith will do so in a comparable spot as Lattimore, so fourth round is a good bet. Now, the Bucs managed to find linebacker Kwon Alexander in the fourth round last year, so there are still starting caliber players to be had early on day three. If the Bucs have already addressed defensive line and safety in the first three rounds (and yes, that means multiple defensive linemen), then using their fourth round pick may not be such a bad idea.
Jason Licht may hold out and see if Smith slips to the fifth round, but I would venture to guess someone else will have scooped Smith up by then. There is no guarantee Smith returns to the player he once was, if he returns at all. However, if he does return to the player he was at Notre Dame, whoever takes him will have the biggest steal in recent draft memory, maybe even give the Patriots a run for their money for their Tom Brady pick.
The draft is the biggest crap-shoot in all of sports. There is no minor leagues where these guys develop and you’re talking about 254 players being taken by teams and most of them will never see a regular season game. Is it so crazy to use one of those picks on a potentially franchise-changing player, despite the injury? Is it crazy to imagine Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, and Jaylon Smith being the most dominant linebacking corps in the NFL? We don’t think so.
What do you think? Is Jaylon Smith worth a gamble come day three of the draft? Let us know in the comment section!