Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith a Pass Rushing Weapon?

May 6, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) meets with owner Jerry Jones during rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones discussed the potential for linebacker Jaylon Smith to help the defense in 2017 as an edge rusher

After a surprising 13-3 season, the Dallas Cowboys saw their No. 1 seed wasted as they lost in their lone playoff game in the Divisional Round. The reason they lost comes down to continually failing to stop Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers when they needed it most. The young offense put up 31 points, but the defense gave up 34, despite Rodgers being without his best weapon in receiver Jordy Nelson.

While there was plenty of blame to go around on defense, the biggest weakness was clearly their lack of a pass rush. No defenders could cover anyone for as long as the Boys were being asked to in that loss. Naturally, such a game has led to an offseason of wondering what they will do to improve their inconsistent pass rush.

According to owner and general manager Jerry Jones, help may already be there. Speaking about his team’s prospects on defense for 2017, he said that he believes that 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith will not only be ready to go after missing his whole rookie season, but that he can provide the team an “outstanding pass rusher.” Jones continued, via Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports:

“He’s a dramatic difference on the field. He’s not necessarily your designated pass rusher, but I don’t know that he can’t be an outstanding pass rusher.”

Of course people are going to question this assessment for two reasons. First, Jones is considered a bit of a rambler that simply says whatever is on his mind. He claimed Romo wasn’t hurt seriously when he was, said the team should have drafted Johnny Manziel and Paxton Lynch to play quarterback, and also claimed repeatedly that Romo had his job waiting for him when the whole world could see that Dak Prescott was the better option going forward.

The second reason that this comment makes people shrug is that Smith only posted 4.5 sacks during his three years at Notre Dame.

After looking a little more into things, though, you can see that the Fighting Irish did ask Smith to play off the edge a few times for them. The results weren’t always him bringing the quarterback down, but he did show an amazing burst and some impressive moves that resulted in some good pressure.

Bleacher Report’s Marcus Mosher has some videos posted of Smith performing well in such a role not only on game days, but in practice as well for the Irish. Here are a couple clips from that including Smith’s ability to provide pressure up the middle as a blitzing linebacker.

Jones was right about a couple things. He said in the same interview that Smith was outstanding at everything he did in college, and he was. He also said that Smith was a No. 1 draft pick type of talent when healthy, and he is.

Dallas lost a second-round pick for one year by drafting Smith, despite knee and nerve damage from a torn ACL in his final college game. It should be worth it, though, because all the reports claim the 235-pound linebacker is healthy and ready to make an impact. One underrated way he could help is in bringing pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

This article originally appeared on