For the NY Jets and their 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, ESPN mock draft expert Mel Kiper selected Jaylon Smith. Despite his major injury, it would make sense to bring him to the city that never sleeps.
In his updated mock draft, Kiper of ESPN believes the Jets will select linebacker Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame with the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Smith, who recently declared for the draft, tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee during the Fiesta Bowl. It’s definitely a possibility that the young prospect could miss all of next season.
Falling short of the NFL Playoffs and picking deep in the draft is not a favorable situation for Gang Green. With Smith suffering serious injuries to his left knee which could very much affect his rookie season in the NFL, should the Jets consider drafting him at 20th overall?
The young linebacker was declared arguably the best player in this year’s draft and that could be an appealing factor to Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan. He’s no stranger to taking the “best player available” as he selected the best player in last year’s draft in Leonard Williams with the 6th overall pick. However, Williams was healthy and was active for the entire 2015 season.
It’s definitely a risk to take a chance on using your only first-round pick on a prospect who may not even see the field until possibly 2017. Todd Gurley tore his ACL before last year’s draft and was still a top ten selection which could help out Smith’s draft stock. However, Gurley was six weeks ahead of his rehab schedule and only missed two games of the 2015 regular season.
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Despite Smith’s injuries sustained, selecting him makes tremendous sense.
It’s safe to say as long as Lorenzo Mauldin is healthy and continues to progress throughout the off-season, he will be penciled in on one side of the defense in 2016. From a need standpoint, Smith could fill in gaps that are vacant due to the Jets waving Quinton Coples and quite possibly moving on from veteran linebacker Calvin Pace.
The Jets were so thin at the linebacker position that they even had their 294 pound defensive end Sheldon Richardson fill in at outside linebacker for the final month of last season.
Like I said earlier, picking Smith would be a huge risk because of his health. He underwent knee surgery on January 7th to repair his ACL and MCL. It’s safe to say he will most likely not be ready for training camp and quite possibly the regular season. Which ever team decides to select the young linebacker will have to be very patient, could the Jets be that team?
Oct 10, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) celebrates a fumble recovery in the third quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 41-24. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no surprise the Jets’ biggest need on the defensive side is at linebacker. Smith would serve as an extremely valuable pick for Gotham but with recent injuries, how valuable is he? I’d love to see Smith in green and white, I believe once he’s fully healthy he will bolster that linebacker corps in New York.
If the Jets were to select Smith in the first round, I think it will be a solid pick. Like I said, it’s a risk, whether he will be available for the 2016 season is very much up in the air. Patience is a virtue, once healthy, Smith can be a solid linebacker for years to come.
Before his injuries, Smith was projected as a top-5 pick in this year’s draft. Will he be selected in the top-5 or will he fall into the hands of the New York Jets at number 20? Only time will tell but either way, it’s a smart move and worth taking a risk to make it happen.