Cowboys don't view Jaylon Smith as luxury, though he'll likely miss season

Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith on the damaged nerve in his leg: "We have to be patient, and you know the nerve can come back tomorrow. It's just a timing thing. Whenever it wants to come back, it'll come back." Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

IRVING, Texas -- When you think about it, we shouldn't have been surprised the Dallas Cowboys took a player in the second round of Friday's NFL draft who will need a miracle to play this season.

The Cowboys have repeatedly taken high-risk/high-reward players in the second round since Jason Garrett has been coach.

They did it in 2010 with Sean Lee (knee), in 2011 with Bruce Carter (knee) and in 2014 with Randy Gregory (failed drug test at scouting combine).

Lee has been a star when he's healthy enough to play. The enigmatic Carter left via free agency after last season, and Gregory has been suspended for the first four games of 2016 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Now, there's Smith.

He tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. He also damaged a nerve, which is why he's not expected to play this season.

12 inches

Unless, of course, you ask him.

"Absolutely," Smith said when asked if he thinks he'll play. "Never doubt God.

"There’s no recovery time, because this is a process where we’re relying on God to do his work. We have to be patient, and you know the nerve can come back tomorrow. It’s just a timing thing. Whenever it wants to come back, it’ll come back."

Actually, it will probably be at least a year before it comes back, according to the Cowboys' training staff. There is a chance it won't ever fully come back, but Cowboys team doctor Dan Cooper performed the surgery. They know more about his knee than any other franchise.

The question is whether Smith will ever be the player that many experts projected would go in the top five before his injury.

The Cowboys picked Smith because they view themselves as the 12-4 team that won the NFC East in 2014, not the injury-ravaged club that went 4-12 last season and wound up with the fourth pick in the draft.

So they don't view him as the kind of luxury draft pick only an elite team would take. They view him as a cornerstone player just like running back Ezekiel Elliott, whom they took with the No. 4 pick.

It's unlikely any other team took two of the top five players on its draft board. The Cowboys are trying to win now and in the future.

"We got two players, impactful players that are around the ball a lot and are difference-makers around the ball," Jerry Jones said. "That’s pretty good for where we are in the draft right now."

So they hear the criticism and understand it. They just don't care about it. Jones made his millions betting on whether oil was at the bottom of a well.

He's never worried about the possibility of failure that accompanies risky decisions, because he's so consumed with the reward.

These days, Garrett takes the same approach, which is why Smith is a member of the Cowboys.