With the 2016 NFL draft just under four months away, it has been confirmed that one of this year's top prospects is heading for surgery in the next 24 hours.
ESPN is reporting that Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, projected as a top-five pick by many should he make himself eligible for early entry into the NFL, will go under the knife on Thursday to repair an ACL and MCL tear suffered during the Fighting Irish's bowl game last week.
And things could be worse than first feared for the talented 20-year-old if Ian Rapoport is to be believed.
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According to the NFL Media reporter, there are fears that Smith may have suffered nerve damage in the injured left knee. As Rapoport himself put it today, it makes it a "very serious surgery."
As a junior, Smith has until January 18th to declare for this year's draft class. The outcome of tomorrow's procedure will likely play a big part in his decision whether to hold back from the NFL for another year.
Having amassed 284 total tackles and 4.5 sacks in his three years at Notre Dame, the explosive linebacker has been earmarked as one of the top defensive talents likely to be heading to the NFL for 2016.
Now, however, even if he does opt to enter the 2016 draft, the injury and subsequent surgery will prevent him from taking part in the Scouting Combine and teams will be wary of using a high pick on an injured talent.
Of course, the St. Louis Rams' Todd Gurley proved this year that players can come back strong from ACL injuries. The running back, though, didn't have any nerve damage to contend with.
NFL fans: Who do you want to see your team select in the 2016 NFL draft, and who will go first overall? Have your say in the comments below...