Irish In The NFL: Jaylon Smith Continues Football Ascent After Injury
After suffering a devastating torn ACL and MCL in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016, Jaylon Smith’s football future appeared uncertain.
However, he entered the NFL Draft that spring and was taken in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Before the injury, he was expected to be a top-10 pick.
In a day and age where top-tier selections in the NFL Draft often forgo their final bowl game to avoid such a catastrophic injury, Smith has said many times — including recently on the Brian Kelly radio show — that he doesn’t regret his decision.
“I lost out on a lot of money for playing in that last game,” Smith said. “And I would do it again because I love the Irish. I was a captain at Notre Dame. I wanted to go out the right way with my brothers.”
He sat out his first NFL season and ever since he has been getting back to full strength and progressing in his career. During the 2017 campaign, he started all 16 games.
In 2018, he again started every game and finished tied for 13th in the NFL in tackles.
After 10 games played through 11 weeks this season, he is currently tied for fifth among all NFL linebackers with 90.
His play thus far in his career, even after starting it on the bench due to his injury, led him to sign a major deal at the beginning of the season.
Smith inked a five-year, $64 million contract, with $35.5 million guaranteed.
Here is how former Notre Dame players fared during week 11 of the NFL season:
Former Notre Dame Football Players In The NFL: Week 11 Recap
• Josh Adams (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-17), RB, New York Jets: After getting signed from the practice squad Nov. 5, he had four carries for six yards in 3-7 New York’s 34-17 win over the 1-9 Washington Redskins.
• Alex Bars (2014-18), OG, Chicago Bears: Was inactive for the 4-6 Bears’ 17-7 road loss against the 6-4 Los Angeles Rams.
• Miles Boykin (2015-18), WR, Baltimore Ravens: Was targeted twice during 8-2 Baltimore’s 41-7 victory over the 6-4 Houston Texans … For the season, he has nine receptions for 131 yards and two scores.
Check out key blocks by WRs Willie Snead & Miles Boykin on this 63-yarder by Gus.— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) November 18, 2019
Boykin saw 2 targets all game. Snead had 3.
This type of unselfish play by Ravens WRs isn’t unique to this game & shouldn’t go unnoticed. They deserve to be commended.pic.twitter.com/PIO0t1fLfh
• Sheldon Day (2012-15), DL, San Francisco 49ers: Recorded zero tackles in the 9-1 49ers’ 36-26 win over the 3-7-1 Arizona Cardinals … Has compiled seven tackles through eight games played.
• Tyler Eifert (2009-12), TE, Cincinnati Bengals: Snagged three catches for 21 yards in the 0-10 Bengals’ 17-10 road loss to the 6-4 Oakland Raiders … Has 28 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns through nine games.
• Matthias Farley (2011‑15), DB, New York Jets: Played on special teams and one defensive snap in the 3-7 Jets’ 34-17 win over the 1-9 Washington Redskins.
• Will Fuller (2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Was inactive in the 6-4 Texans’ 41-7 loss to the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens … Has 34 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns in six games played.
• Bennett Jackson (2010-13), DB, Baltimore Ravens: Participated on special teams and four defensive snaps in the 8-2 Ravens’ 41-7 victory over the 6-4 Houston Texans … Played in his fourth career NFL game last week after overcoming several career setbacks.
• J.J. Jansen (2004-07), LS, Carolina Panthers: Participated in five special teams snaps in the 5-5 Panthers’ 29-3 home loss to the 3-7 Atlanta Falcons … Has served as the team’s long snapper in all 10 games.
• Ben Koyack (2011-14), TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Snagged one catch for nine yards in the 4-6 Jaguars’ 33-13 loss to the 6-4 Indianapolis Colts … It marked his first reception in five games played this season.
• TJ Jones (2010‑13), WR, Free Agent: Was cut by the New York Giants to make room for Golden Tate when he returned from his four-game suspension … For the season, he has three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in three games played with the Giants … Has yet to sign with a new team.
• DeShone Kizer (2014-16), QB, Oakland Raiders: Did not play in the 6-4 Raiders’ 17-10 home win over the 0-10 Cincinnati Bengals … Has yet to see game action since joining the team at the end of the preseason.
• Julian Love (2015-18), CB, New York Giants: The 2-8 New York Giants had a bye.
• Cole Luke (2013-16), CB, Carolina Panthers: Signed from the practice squad two weeks ago and played 12 special teams snaps in 5-5 Panthers’ 29-3 loss to the 3-7 Atlanta Falcons.
• Nick Martin (2011-15), OL, Houston Texans: Started in the 6-4 Texans’ 41-7 loss to the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens … Has played 100 percent of the offensive snaps at center this season.
• Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Was on the field for every offensive snap in the 6-4 Cowboys’ 35-27 road win versus the 3-6-1 Detroit Lions.
• Mike McGlinchey (2013-17), OL, San Francisco 49ers: Started at right tackle in the 9-1 49ers’ 36-26 win over the 3-7-1 Arizona Cardinals … He has started six games this season at right tackle, missing four due to a knee injury.
• Quenton Nelson (2014-17), OL, Indianapolis Colts: Started in the 6-4 Colts in their 33-13 win over the 4-6 Jacksonville Jaguars and had one carry for no yards... According to PFF, he had a 90.3 overall grade and made their week 11 Team of the Week.
• Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Was inactive for the 3-6-1 Lions’ 35-27 home loss to the 6-4 Dallas Cowboys … For the season, he has 12 tackles, half a sack and a forced fumble.
• C.J. Prosise (2012-15), RB, Seattle Seahawks: The 8-2 Seahawks had a bye.
• Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: Notched one tackle in 4-7 Los Angeles’ 24-17 loss against the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs Monday night in Mexico City … For the season, he has 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
• Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: Hauled in five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in the 8-3 Vikings’ 27-23 home win over the 3-7 Denver Broncos … For the season, he has 29 receptions for 251 yards and five touchdowns.
• Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Notched four tackles and a quarterback hit in the 8-3 Vikings’ 27-23 win over the 3-7 Denver Broncos … For the season, he has 61 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception.
• Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Notched nine tackles (all solos) in the 6-4 Cowboys’ 35-27 road win versus the 3-6-1 Detroit Lions … Has 90 tackles 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his first eight contests ... Tied for sixth in the NFL in total tackles.
• Durham Smythe (2013-17), TE, Miami Dolphins: Played eight offensive snaps and was not targeted during 2-8 Miami’s 37-20 home loss to the 7-3 Buffalo Bills … For the season, he has one reception for 24 yards.
• Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OT, Baltimore Ravens: Played only 61 offensive snaps due to 8-2 Baltimore’s 41-7 blowout victory over the 6-4 Houston Texans … Has started each of the first 10 contests at left tackle and continues to be an elite pass blocker.
Ronnie Stanley in the Pro Bowl this year or we riot— Mike Golic Jr (@MGolicJR57) November 17, 2019
• Golden Tate (2007-09), WR, New York Giants: The 2-8 Giants had a bye ... Has 33 catches for 417 yards and three touchdowns in six games played since returning from a four-game PED suspension.
• Jerry Tillery (2015-18), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: Did not record a tackle in the 4-7 Chargers’ 24-17 loss to the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs Monday night in Mexico City … For the season, he has compiled 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
• Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: Was inactive for the 4-7 Chargers 24-17 loss to the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs Monday night in Mexico City … Has 43 tackles through nine games, and has been excellent on special teams this season.
• Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DE, Pittsburgh Steelers: Did not play in the 5-5 Steelers’ 21-7 loss to the 4-6 Cleveland Browns ... Due to a torn pectoral muscle, he is out for the season ... Before his injury, he compiled 22 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
• Dexter Williams (2015-18), RB, Green Bay Packers: The 8-2 Packers had a bye … Has been active in three games this season.