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Jaylon Smith draft stock could depend on medical re-check in April

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame's 2015 season ended with the final seconds ticking off in the Fiesta Bowl. Unfortunately for linebacker Jaylon Smith, the ending of his season came earlier in the game, when he tore his ACL and LCL in the first quarter of the contest. Smith had been expected to be among the top prospects in the NFL Draft in 2016, but now teams are waiting for more information on a knee injury that could sideline Smith for his entire rookie year.

Teams get a good medical evaluation of potential draft targets during the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but the league holds another round of medical re-examinations during April, allowing for injured players to come back for a second set of medical checks, and for teams to get an update on the recovery and rehabilitation of the players. That could be a huge step for Smith.

This year's medical re-checks are expected to take place April 14-15.

Smith will be an intriguing option for some team during the Draft. The Miami Dolphins could use linebacker help, and could consider selecting Smith, shelving him for the 2016 season, and then inserting him into the 2017 starting lineup. That could only be done, however, if Smith falls past the first round, as it is unlikely Miami would be willing to redshirt a first-round pick in a season where they are clearly looking for immediate impact. Will Smith fall that far? The medical re-checks may be the key to answering that question.