A month ago, it would have been unfathomable for Jaylon Smith to fall outside the top 10, but after blowing out his knee during the Fiesta Bowl, the Notre Dame linebacker’s draft stock took a hit.
The latest mock draft from CBS’ Dane Brugler has the Bears selecting Smith, once considered by some to be the best player in the draft, with the No. 11 overall pick.
The Bears are far removed from the days of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs dominating the NFC and are missing impact defensive players on the current roster. Smith won’t be ready for the start of the 2016 NFL season due to his knee injury, but his long-term impact makes him worthy of this pick.
The thought of grabbing a player with such a high ceiling is intriguing, but can Bears fans stomach using another first-rounder on a player that will miss part, or even all, of the coming season?
Chiacgo’s 2015 first-round pick, receiver Kevin White, missed all of last season after undergoing shin surgery during the offseason.
Smith has a long road to recovery after tearing both his ACL and MCL during the Irish’s 44-28 loss to Ohio State.
But a team spending a high pick on a player recovering from a serious knee injury wouldn’t be unprecedented. Last year, the Rams took running back Todd Gurley with the No. 10 overall pick just months after Gurley tore his ACL.
After missing the first three games of the season, Gurley put together a solid rookie season as he rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Smith, a Fort Wayne native, won the 2015 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.
The draft, which begins April 28, will be held in Chicago for the second consecutive year.