It hasn't been a positive couple of months for former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. On January 1st he injured his knee early in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Less than a week later it was reported that Smith tore his ACL and MCL--and it later turned out it was actually the ACL and LCL that were torn. On January 8th, Jaylon had surgery to repair his knee.
On January 11th he declared early for the NFL Draft.
The issue since the news of the injury is the presence of any nerve damage, and if there is any how severe it could be for Smith. Some reports said there was a fear of nerve damage while others reported there was no nerve damage.
One month ago, it was reported by NFL Draft Scout that Jaylon would be ready for the 2016 season although in hindsight that was an incredibly premature, and frankly unknowable, assertion to make less than a month after surgery.
"I'm the best player in the draft. I just can't show it right now." https://t.co/100tkoNlyl— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2016
This past weekend Jaylon Smith made his way to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and while he was obviously not able to go through any workouts he did go through physicals with teams and speak to the press.
While speaking to the media Jaylon was asked about the brace he was wearing and said "It's helping the nerve heal. The nerve isn't stretched at all." When asked about THIS TWEET that he posted while walking without a brace prior to arriving at the Combine he replied, "It's just a matter of the recovery process. I don't know when the nerve and everything will heal."
That's kind of a confusing response from Smith but causing additional confusion is the fact that multiple teams failed Jaylon on his physicals during the Combine. For most people this isn't news as Smith's knee currently isn't healthy enough so of course he'd fail. However, along with those failed physicals there are reports that teams found nerve damage in both his knee and ankle.
The nerve damage is apparently bad enough that a few teams have taken Smith completely off their Draft board, while others have done so pending another physical in April when Smith returns to Indianapolis.
Additional confusion is out there regarding how long Jaylon Smith will be unable to play football. The trend seems to be that he's very likely not playing at all for 2016 but the greatest fear with his nerve damage is that he'll never be able to play again.
Let's hope those great fears never become a reality. If they do, the draft position of Smith becomes an interesting factor in regards to how much money he'll be able to earn. For several weeks it's been reported that Smith had taken out a $5 million loss-of-value insurance policy if he falls out of the 1st round but according to a new tweet from Darren Rovell he wouldn't collect $5 million simply for not being picked in the opening round.
Jaylon Smith's insurance will pay him $700K tax free if he falls out of 1st round, gets $100K w/each missed pick after. Policy from ISI.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 27, 2016
Using last year's rookie contracts for linebackers as our guide let's take a look at some of the financials involved, with the caveat that "guaranteed" money isn't usually ALL guaranteed in the NFL.
If Smith's stock doesn't fall much from it's pre-bowl game level he'd receive around $23.5 million if picked at No. 3 overall like Dante Fowler.
If he falls to a late 1st round pick he'd receive around $7.2 million if selected at No. 25 overall like Shaq Thompson.
The cap for his insurance policy ($5 million) means that Smith cannot gain any additional money from his policy after Tampa Bay's 11th pick of the 3rd round, 74th overall.
If Jaylon is an early 2nd round pick like Preston Smith last year he'd get about $3.2 million in guaranteed money plus an additional $1.3 million from his insurance policy. That's a total of $4.5 million overall.
A late 2nd round pick like Randy Gregory in 2015 would net Jaylon $1.5 million from his contract and an additional $3.5 million from insurance. That's a total of $5.0 million overall.
If Jaylon is picked somewhere early in the 3rd round, let's say the 5th pick of that round, he'd receive around $800,000 in guaranteed money and $4.4 million from insurance for a total of $5.2 million overall.
The 74th pick by the Buccaneers would net Smith all $5 million plus an additional $750,000 from his contract.
Once he gets past Tampa Bay at 74th overall he's collecting all $5 million and it's just a matter of picking up a decreasing amount of guaranteed money from a rookie contract.
Ballpark Guaranteed Money
- Late 3rd Round- $600,000
- Early 4th Round- $525,000
- Late 4th Round- $450,000
- Early 5th Round- $230,000
- Late 5th Round- $200,000
- Early 6th Round- $130,000
- Late 6th Round- $115,000
- Early 7th Round- $72,000
- Late 7th Round- $55,000
From a financial standpoint the best outcome for Jaylon Smith is to be picked in the 1st round or hope he goes somewhere around that 11th pick in the 3rd round so he can collect as close to the $5 million of the insurance with guaranteed money adding somewhere around three-quarters of a million.