The Butkus Award winner is recovering from a severe knee injury, suffered in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, that includes nerve issues in both his ankle and knee, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, who spoke to sources familiar with Smith's NFL Scouting Combine medical exams. The result: doubts about whether he'll make his NFL debut before 2017.
Smith, who tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee, went through all the medical exams for teams on Friday and says he will go for a re-check in early April, three weeks before the draft. He walked gingerly on Friday, but without crutches, as he made his way to the podium to speak to the media.
A likely top-10 pick before the injury, he now wonders where he'll land.
"I feel I'm the best player in the draft," Smith. "I'm going to be a high-impact player for a long time."
Smith sounded as though he's aware that his NFL career is facing a significant delay.
"It will be a long-term decision for any team that takes me," he said.
The only slightly bright spot? Smith has a $5 million loss-of-value insurance policy, a source informed of the situation told Rapoport. If he paid premiums, he gets tax-free payout, the source said.