When Jaylon Smith tore his anterior cruciate ligament(ACL) back in January, it was expected that his chances for selection in the NFL draft were over for some time to come. Supporters were not happy as the injury was compounded by the fact that he also managed to get a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain at the same time and there are reports of nerve damage.

Jon Machota’s survey.

When Dallas Cowboys announced his selection as the second round pick linebacker, many fans were confused. According to a twitter survey run by Jon Machota, more fans were disappointed, angry or just plain confused than anything else.

The 41% who were happy about the pick are at odds with the other fans.

Doubts flow off Jaylon’s back.

Even among the fans who think Jaylon was a good, far-thinking pick for the team, there is some doubt that he will manage to play this year. The doubts, however, flow off Jaylon's back like water. The man is confident that he will play. It was reported by Sports Day, that he ascribed his belief in this to God. “Absolutely. Never doubt God,” he said emphatically. His strength of character comes through loud and clear, and we need to look no further than the very fast pace of his recovery so far, following the surgery that was done to his knee by the Cowboy’s doctor.

Will he ever be the same again?

Will his strength of character overcome the injury to the point where he will be able to perform as well as he did as potentially one of the best linebackers in the game over the past few years? According to Matt Mosely, who co-hosts the Afternoon Show, there is little doubt that he was a great college player, but as he pointed out “we don't know for sure if he'll ever be the same.”

Statistical chances

The chances are still good that he will play again, but it is unlikely to be inside the forthcoming season.

However, there is a chance that he will never play as well as he hopes. Dr. David Geier, who writes about “simplifying sports injuries,” quotes a study covered by the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2012, which has some interesting statistics. Although the statistics refer mainly to soccer rather than American Football, they do indicate that the injury Jaylon suffered will probably trouble his game for some time to come.

Being young is an advantage.

Most professional players who returned to the game did not manage to do so inside of a year, and of those players, about 12% ended up having another ACL surgical procedure. 75% of those players had the injury on the other knee. In Jaylon's favor, though, most of the players who did manage to perform again were young, and as many as 85% of them managed to make it back to either the same or even a higher, level of sporting performance.

LCLs heal slower than ACLs

The anger and confusion by some fans, who admit they would not be so befuddled if he had been picked for the 3rd or 4th draft are probably underpinned by the fact that Jaylon’s injury involved both an LCL and an ACL.

When Cardinals safetyTyrann Mathieu suffered the same injury in 2013, his doctor explained to ESPN, that athletes likeAdrian Peterson, who played for Minnesota when he suffered an ACL injury, often do make a quick comeback, but that’s “not so with the LCLs.”

Jim Dray made it back.

All is not lost, however, and there is a fine example of one player at least, who made it back into the NFL and four years later was still performing well. That was another Cardinals player, Jim Dray who went through the same painful injury as Jaylon when he was at Stanford University. He made it back through a brutal regime of rehab. Jaylon seems to have the guts, the dedication and the strength of character to get through his rehab and make it back onto the field. If he does, and he plays well, the divided fans will probably put this away. After all, it’s all about the team, the game, the pride and the unity of the fans that make the Dallas Cowboys so special.