Cowboys ‘more fired up than ever’ about Jaylon Smith, expected to be ready for OTAs

Jaylon Smith
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys took a gamble last year in the draft selecting Jaylon Smith in the second round, and they’re optimistic it’s about to pay off.

“He’s doing great,” Jones said. “He’s making great improvements. We’re certainly more fired up than ever that we picked him last year.”

The former Notre Dame star linebacker missed his entire rookie season after a devastating knee injury in his final game with the Irish resulted in nerve damage. Since that point, Smith has continued his rehab with the determination of a champion, despite some setbacks in his recovery.

As a result of his consistent work in rehab, Smith is now expected to be available for Dallas for OTAs, which begin in late May.

“When you look at how we improve our defense over last year, him and [fourth-rounder Charles] Tapper both, as we all know, were high picks for us that didn’t contribute last year,” Jones said. “We certainly have high hopes for both of those guys and feel like they’re going to be ready to go here when OTAs and minicamp start.”

During Smith’s tenure at Notre Dame, he was viewed as one of the finest players in the nation at any position. In three years, he racked up 284 total tackles, 23.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception. Before his injury, he was seen as a potential top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.