Patriots

Patriots

Earlier this week, our intrepid Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran broached the topic of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith potentially being worth a Patriots draft pick.

A top-10 talent before suffering a gruesome knee injury at the end of last season, it seems as though Smith would certainly be worthy of a late-round selection, Curran wrote. The Patriots front office has proven its willingness to take chances on talented players with injuries in the past so why wouldn't they do it again? Especially if Smith lasts until the sixth round where the Patriots have five selections, three of which are compensatory picks and can't be traded. 

But what if the Patriots pounced sooner?

In a draft-day column on MMQB.com, Peter King's "best guess" on where Smith will end up was with New England at pick No. 96 overall in the third round. 

"He’s the first-round pick they didn’t have this year, assuming the Notre Dame linebacker ever comes back from the nerve damage in his knee stemming from his Fiesta Bowl injury," King wrote. "The Pats can justify it because of their multiple selections in this area—60, 61, 91 and 96."

Smith, when healthy, checks every box as the protorypical modern-day linebacker. At 223 pounds, he's a bit undersized relative to the players that the Patriots typically like to draft at that position, but athletically he was elite before his injury.

 

If the Patriots medical staff gives the coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio the thumbs up in regard to the health of Smith's knee, it would absolutely come as no surprise if the Patriots drafted him.

No two injuries are alike, obviously, but when it comes to getting good value on a player in the draft with physical question marks -- whether it's Rob Gronkowski or Dominique Easley or Ras-I Dowling -- their track record is proven. They'll take a shot.