Jaylon Smith

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Jaylon Smith
refer to caption
Smith in 2017
No. 54 – Dallas Cowboys
Personal information
Born: (1995-06-14) June 14, 1995 (age 24)
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:248 lb (112 kg)
Career information
High school:Bishop Luers
(Fort Wayne, Indiana)
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:2016 / Round: 2 / Pick: 34
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2019
Total tackles:344
Forced fumbles:6
Fumble recoveries:3
Pass deflections:15
Defensive touchdowns:1
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Jaylon Smith (born June 14, 1995) is an American football linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Notre Dame and was drafted 34th overall by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

High school career[edit]

Smith attended Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was a letterman in football, basketball and track. In football, he won the Butkus Award as a senior, given to the best high school linebacker in the country,[1][2] and was named the Mr. Football award winner for the state of Indiana.

He helped Bishop Luers to 40–28 over Evansville Mater Dei in 2012 Indiana 2A title game while rushing for 150 yards and scoring three touchdowns, as Bishop Luers became first Indiana 2A school to win four straight state titles. He finished with 1,265 rushing yards and 18 TDs on 176 attempts as senior in 2012 to go with 10 receptions for 66 yards and two more TDs. Defensively, he recorded 72 tackles (43 solo), 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and seven pass deflections.

In basketball, he played as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and was teammates with former Ohio State basketball player Deshaun Thomas.

In track & field, Smith competed in events ranging from the relays to the shot put as a senior. At the 2013 IHSAA T&F Sectional, he took fourth in the shot put, with a PR of 14.81 meters (48 ft 6 in), and ran the lead leg on first-place 4 × 100 m (43.43) and fourth leg on second-place 4 × 400 m (3:27.08).[3] At the 2013 SAC T&F Meet, he anchored the Bishop Luers' 4 × 100 m relay team, winning the event with a time of 42.91 seconds, and the 4 × 400 m, which finished in third place, while also placing third in the shot put (47 ft 5 in) and eight in the 400-meter dash (53.46 s).[4]


Smith signed his letter of intent on February 6, 2013 and committed to attend and play football at the University of Notre Dame.[5] He was considered the best outside linebacker recruit of his class by Rivals.com and Scout.com.[6][7] He played in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Jaylon Smith
Fort Wayne, IN Bishop Luers High School 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 237 lb (108 kg) 4.50 Jun 2, 2012 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:5/5 stars   247SportsN/A    ESPN grade: 90
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 1 (OLB), 1 (regional), 3 (national)   Rivals: 1 (OLB), 3 (national)  ESPN: 2 (OLB), 1 (regional), 7 (national)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


  • "Notre Dame Football Commitment List". Rivals.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  • "Notre Dame College Football Recruiting Commits". Scout.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  • "ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  • "Scout.com Team Recruiting Rankings". Scout.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  • "2013 Team Ranking". Rivals.com. Retrieved December 10, 2012.

College career[edit]

Smith in 2013,

In 2013, Smith won the starting DOG linebacker position beating out Ben Councell, after incumbent starter Danny Spond had to retire due to migraine issues.[8][9] Starting all 13 games, he recorded 67 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, one forced fumble, three pass break ups and one interception. His best game came in a 34–30 victory against Arizona State, where he recorded nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He notched his first career interception against USC on a pass thrown by Cody Kessler.

With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, he was moved to an inside linebacker position in 2014.[10] He was one of three players to start all 13 games on defense, recording 112 tackles, including nine for loss, and 3.5 sacks, adding two pass breakups and one forced fumble. He was named the FBS Independent Co-Defensive Player of the Year, along with teammate Joe Schmidt IV and was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.[11][12]

During his junior year in 2015, Smith played in all 13 games with 115 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one sack, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and 1 forced fumble. He won the Butkus Award, given annually to college football's top linebacker.[13] During the Fiesta Bowl game against Ohio State, Smith suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and left the game. It was confirmed that the knee was diagnosed with tears to the ACL and LCL.[14] He underwent successful knee surgery on both ligaments on January 7, 2016. On January 11, 2016, Smith announced he would forego his remaining eligibility and enter the 2016 NFL draft.[15]

College stats[edit]

NCAA Collegiate Career statistics
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Season Tackling Interceptions Fumbles
Year Class GP Comb Solo Ast Loss Sack Int Yds Lng TD PD FF FR Yds TD
2013 FR 13 67 41 26 6.5 0.0 1 -1 -1 0 3 1 1 0 0
2014 SO 13 111 64 47 9.0 3.5 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0
2015 JR 13 115 69 46 9.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 5 1 2 0 0
Career 39 292 174 118 24.5 4.5 1 -1 -1 0 10 3 3 0 0

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad
6 ft 2 in
(1.88 m)
223 lb
(101 kg)
33 in
(0.84 m)
9 12 in
(0.24 m)
All values from NFL Combine[16]

Prior to his injury in the Fiesta Bowl, Smith was projected to be a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.[17] On January 11, 2016, Smith released a statement through Twitter announcing his decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.[18] Smith attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in order to meet with teams, but was unable to participate in workouts due to his injury. On April 14, 2016, Smith was one of multiple prospects to undergo extensive medical evaluations as multiple teams were worried about the possibility of nerve damage. He received tests to objectively measure his nerve function.[19] Smith attended a pre-draft visit with the San Francisco 49ers.[20] At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, NFL draft experts and scouts projected Smith to be selected as early as the second round to as late as the sixth round. The majority of NFL draft experts projected him to be a third or fourth round pick.[21] He was ranked the 10th best outside linebacker prospect in the draft by DraftScout.com and was ranked the 11th best linebacker by NFL analyst Mike Mayock.[22]

Smith in 2017


The Dallas Cowboys selected Smith in the second round (34th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Cowboys selected Smith after they unsuccessfully tried to trade their second (34th overall) and third round (67th overall) draft choices to move back into the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft to select quarterback Paxton Lynch. The selection of Smith by the Dallas Cowboys surprised many observers and the media as they gambled on Smith's ability to return from his serious left knee injury he suffered in his last college game. Smith was operated on by the Dallas Cowboys’ doctor, Dan Cooper. Smith was the fourth linebacker drafted in 2016.[23][24][25]

External video
Cowboys draft Jaylon Smith 34th overall
Jaylon Smith received phone call from Jerry Jones

On May 20, 2016, the Dallas Cowboys signed Smith to a four-year, $6.49 million contract that includes $4.42 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $2.92 million.[26][27]

Jared Dubin, a CBS Sports writer, stated in an article posted to CBSSports.com on June 29, 2016, that "The Cowboys are confident in their diagnosis because it was their team physician that did Smith's surgery." He also went on to point out that, since the team's physician was the one to do the surgery, the Cowboys had more up-to-date information than other teams. Dubin then continued by saying that the Cowboys were in dire need of a superstar like Jaylon Smith, and that they could not afford to lose such a valuable prospect.[28] As expected, Smith was inactive for the entire 2016 NFL season as he recovered from his torn ACL and MCL.


On June 7, 2017, Smith participated in drills for the first time in front of media since his torn ACL and MCL.[29] Smith entered training camp as a backup middle linebacker.[30] On July 20, 2017, the Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Justin Durant as insurance in the event Smith was unable to fully recover before the start of the regular season. Smith was expected to experience full nerve regeneration within the next six to nine months after suffering nerve damage as a result of his injury.[31] On July 26, 2017, Smith took part in practice in full pads for the first time since college, but received limited reps as the coaching staff was cautious as he became acclimated to playing in full pads.[32] The Dallas Cowboys planned to use Smith as a backup and rotational player primarily on first and second down to avoid putting him in pass situations. The plan to use him for 25-30 snaps per game was eventually scrapped after they were forced to use him more than expected after starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in the last preseason game.[33] Head coach Jason Garrett named Smith the starting middle linebacker to begin the regular season, alongside outside linebackers Sean Lee and Damien Wilson.[34]

He made his professional regular season debut and first career start in the Dallas Cowboys’ season-opener against the New York Giants and recorded seven combined tackles and forced a fumble during their 19–3 victory.[35] In Week 4, he collected a season-high ten combined tackles (seven solo) during a 35–30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Smith remained as the starting middle linebacker in Weeks 4 and 5 after Anthony Hitchens was moved to outside linebacker to fill in for an injured Sean Lee. In Week 7, Smith was demoted to backup middle linebacker after Anthony Hitchens returned from injury.[33] On October 22, 2017, Smith recorded three combined tackles and forced a fumble on his first career sack during the Cowboys’ 40–10 win at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7. Smith made his first career sack on 49ers’ quarterback C. J. Beathard for a six-yard loss and also forced a fumble by Bethard that was recovered by teammate Tyrone Crawford in the third quarter.[36] Smith finished his 2nd NFL season in 2017 with 81 combined tackles (50 solo), two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and one sack in 16 games and six starts.[37]


Smith entered training camp slated as the starting middle linebacker after Anthony Hitchens departed for the Kansas City Chiefs during free agency. Head coach Jason Garrett named Smith the starting middle linebacker to start the regular season, ahead of rookie first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. He began the season alongside outside linebackers Sean Lee and Damien Wilson.[38] On October 7, 2018, Smith collected 12 combined tackles (six solo), broke up a pass, and made a sack during a 19–16 loss at the Houston Texans in Week 5.[39]


On August 20, 2019, Smith signed a five-year, $64 million contract extension with the Cowboys with $35.5 million guaranteed, keeping him under contract through the 2024 season.[40]

Smith was also elected as a first time team captain for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys season. In week 2 against the Washington Redskins, Smith made a team high 11 tackles as the Cowboys won 31–21. [41] In week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith recorded a team high 7 tackles and forced a fumble off tight end Dallas Goedert which was recovered by teammate Maliek Collins in the 37–10 win. [42] In week 9 against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, Smith recorded a team high 12 tackles and half a sack on Daniel Jones in the 37–18 win. [43] In week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football, Smith recorded a team high 13 tackles in the 28–24 loss. [44] In week 17 against the Washington Redskins, Smith recorded a team high 8 tackles and intercepted a pass thrown by Case Keenum during the 47–16 win. This was Smith's first career interception in the NFL. [45]


Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Solo Ast Sack Int Yds Avg TD PD FF FR TD
2017 DAL 16 6 81 50 31 1.0 0 0 0.0 0 4 2 0 0
2018 DAL 16 16 121 82 39 4.0 0 0 0.0 0 2 2 1 1
2019 DAL 16 16 142 83 59 2.5 1 0 0.0 0 9 2 1 0
Career 48 38 344 215 129 7.5 1 0 0.0 0 15 6 2 1

Personal life[edit]

Jaylon has an older brother, Rod, who is currently playing for the Oakland Raiders.


  1. ^ Gillett, Brian. (December 3, 2012) Jaylon Smith Wins H.S. Butkus Award Archived December 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Indianasnewscenter.com. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  2. ^ Te'o, Smith sweep Butkus honors. Espn.go.com (December 3, 2012). Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  3. ^ HY-TEK's Meet Manager 5/16/2013 08:42 PM, 2013 IHSAA FW Wayne Boys Sectional – 5/16/2013, Wayne High School. May 16, 2013
  4. ^ Jones, Greg (May 4, 2013) Luers' 400 relay team gridiron stars too. journalgazette.net
  5. ^ Jaylon Smith To Notre Dame: 5-Star Outside Linebacker Recruit Commits To Fighting Irish. Huffingtonpost.com. June 4, 2012.
  6. ^ Jaylon Smith. Sports.yahoo.com (April 20, 2011). Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  7. ^ Jaylon Smith. Recruiting.scout.com. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  8. ^ Fortuna, Matt (August 21, 2013) Migraines end Danny Spond's career. Espn.go.com. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Jaylon Smith Named Notre Dame Starter[permanent dead link]. Indianasnewscenter.com. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  10. ^ Smith Moves To The Middle. Notredame.247sports.com (April 16, 2014). Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  11. ^ Jaylon Smith Named 2nd Team AP All-American Archived December 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Irishsportsdaily.com (December 16, 2014). Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  12. ^ Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith transcends growing pains to earn All-America honors. Heraldtimesonline.com (December 16, 2014). Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  13. ^ Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith wins Butkus Award
  14. ^ Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith has torn ACL, MCL
  15. ^ He is now a Dallas Cowboy Jaylon Smith intends to enter 2016 NFL Draft
  16. ^ "Jaylon Smith Combine Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "Draft Wire Mock Draft 1.0: Bosa, Treadwell lead the way for 2016 class". USA Today. December 22, 2015.
  18. ^ Wells, Adam. "Jaylon Smith Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  19. ^ Vrentas, Jenny (April 14, 2016). "35 Prospects Head Back to the NFL Combine". SI.con. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  20. ^ "Sakamoto: 49ers' To Host Pre Draft Visit For Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith". ninerfans.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  21. ^ "*Jaylon Smith, DS #10 OLB, Notre Dame". DraftScout.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  22. ^ "Mike Mayock's 2016 NFL Draft top 100 prospect rankings". NFL.com. April 25, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Jerry Jones lost sleep over missing out on Paxton Lynch". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  24. ^ "Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith cries, celebrates draft selection". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  25. ^ "Cowboys don't view Jaylon Smith as luxury, though he'll likely miss season". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  26. ^ "Spotrac.com: Jaylon Smith contract". Spotrac.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "Jaylon Smith signs with Cowboys; now when will he play?". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  28. ^ Dubin, Jared (June 29, 2016). "Report: No improvement in nerve of Cowboys' Jaylon Smith, 2016 likely out". CBSSports.com. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  29. ^ "Cowboy's Jaylon Smith seen practicing for the first time after intense surgery". sportingnews.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "Jason Garrett on Jaylon Smith: It's just the start". NFL.com. August 20, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Fisher, Mike (July 21, 2017). "Cowboys LBs: Jaylon, Justin + Just-In-Case". 247Sports.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  32. ^ "Excited Cowboys preach patience as Jaylon Smith practices in pads". Star-Telegram. July 26, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  33. ^ a b "Anthony Hitchens' Return Should Make Jaylon Smith A Better Player". nbcdfw.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  34. ^ Drummond, K.D. (September 2, 2016). "Predicting Cowboys 2017 initial depth chart after final roster cuts". cowboyswire.usatoday.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  35. ^ "Jaylon Smith not only plays but stars for Cowboys in debut". Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  36. ^ "Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers - October 22nd, 2017". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "NFL Player stats: Jaylon Smith (career)". NFL.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  38. ^ Walker, Patrick (September 5, 2018). "Cowboys release depth chart for season opener vs. Panthers". 247Sports.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  39. ^ "NFL Player stats: Jaylon Smith (2018)". NFL.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  40. ^ Patra, Kevin (August 20, 2019). "Cowboys sign LB Jaylon Smith to five-year extension". NFL.com.
  41. ^ "Dak double: Cowboys' Prescott beats Redskins with legs, arm". www.espn.com. September 15, 2019. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  42. ^ "Cowboys run over Eagles, take 1st in NFC East with 37-10 win". www.espn.com. October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  43. ^ "Prescott throws for 3 TDs as Cowboys beat Giants again". www.espn.com. November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  44. ^ "Cook leads Vikings to 28-24 prime-time road win over Cowboys". www.espn.com. November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  45. ^ "Cowboys beat Redskins 47-16, miss playoffs with Eagles' win". www.espn.com. Associated Press. December 29, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2019.

External links[edit]