Last year the Chicago Bears drafted wide receiver Kevin White with the 7th overall pick in the NFL Draft. He was healthy, there were no injury red flags from his time at West Virginia, but he ended up missing the entire 2015 season.
The optimistic Bears' fan looks at this situation and thinks the Bears are kinda getting two #1 draft picks in 2016, with White coming back and whomever they pick at 11th overall. I look at White's lost rookie year as a missed opportunity. He'll now have to acclimate himself to the pro game and fight through the rookie jitters, the rookie wall, and whatever learning curves that come with facing NFL talent for the first time.
Would the Chicago Bears pick a player in this draft that faces a similar situation?
In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, the ESPN draft guru has the Bears picking a player that tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee during the 2015 Fiesta Bowl, leaving his rookie year in doubt. Would GM Ryan Pace really draft a player that won't be 100% for the 2016 season?
Here's what Kiper has the Bears doing in his mock.
11. Chicago Bears
*Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
If Jaylon Smith didn't end his career at Notre Dame being carted off the field in the Fiesta Bowl, you're looking at a player who wouldn't be available here. If it's just about the tape, this is one of the top three or four players in the entire draft, a gifted sideline-to-sideline defender who can cover. The potential reward at a position of need makes him a great addition here.
A healthy Smith is a plug and play guy from day 1, but can the Bears justify picking an injured player? Sure ACL and MCL tears aren't a detriment to a career like they once were, but after White sat out the entire year, should the Bears roll the dice on Smith's knee?
Smith is listed at 6'3" and anywhere from 229-240 pounds. Scouts say he can play any linebacker spot in any defensive front. He would be a 3 down player in Vic Fangio's scheme, providing some versatility. Is he a Mike ILB, a Jack ILB, a Sam OLB or a Rush OLB? Fangio would settle him into one spot (my guess is the Jack), but use him all over the field.
If he checks out medically at the NFL Combine, and his knee appears to be on schedule for recovery, he could be worth the 11th overall pick.
Would you guys be OK with Jaylon Smith at 11?