NFL

Cowboys rookie Jaylon Smith says he could have played at 'elite level' in postseason

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54), a second-round pick, watches the action during the team's rookie camp at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, on Friday, May 6, 2016. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54), a second-round pick, watches the action during the team's rookie camp at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, on Friday, May 6, 2016. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

The Dallas Cowboys used their second-round pick in the 2016 draft on a linebacker who wasn't guaranteed to ever play a snap in the NFL. Jaylon Smith suffered a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl last year, putting his career in question.

He has been sidelined all season, as predicted, but things are looking up for the rookie. On Thursday, he said the nerve in his leg, which was damaged by the knee injury, is regenerating and believes he could have played in the postseason at an "elite level."

.@thejaylonsmith says coulda played in #Cowboys playoffs at 'elite level' & tells me would've played WITH corrective brace @1053thefan

— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) January 5, 2017

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Cowboys rookie LB Jaylon Smith said his nerve in his leg is regenerating and he believes he could have played in playoffs at an elite level

— Brandon George (@DMN_George) January 5, 2017

Additionally, Smith said the brace is no longer a factor and ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash the other day.

Talked to Jaylon Smith. Believes he could've played by now, being patient. Nerve regenerating. Brace not a factor anymore. Ran 4.5 other day

— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) January 5, 2017

He expects to be on the field in May for OTAs, which is a great sign for his chances of playing the full season in 2017 -- which was always the hope.

Cowboys rookie LB Jaylon Smith said he'll be on field participating in OTAs in May now with his nerve regenerating.

— Brandon George (@DMN_George) January 5, 2017

Looking ahead to next season, the Cowboys could potentially have a fantastic linebacker duo with Sean Lee and Smith in the middle of the defense.