At first glance, Smith walking without his original brace appeared to be good news. But former San Diego Chargers team doctor David Chao, a regular NFL injury commentator on Twitter, noticed something else:
Chao and others around the league speculated that the apparent nerve damage could send Smith tumbling into the draft’s third round or worse. And at the NFL combine on Saturday, doctors confirmed nerve damage in both his knee and ankle, causing “multiple” teams to fail the 20-year-old on his physical, according to Adam Schefter and Jeff Legwold.
Smith’s battered left leg will likely sideline him for the entire 2016 season, but it could end up keeping him away from the game even longer. Former South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore endured a similar injury, and in 2014 he ended up retiring before ever playing a down in the NFL.
Three NFL teams have set Smith aside from the rest of their draft prospects until a medical re-check of the linebacker’s knee in April, according to Yahoo Sports. Their main concerns rested on the All-American’s potential long-term nerve issues rather than his surgically repaired ACL and LCL.
So Smith has until April to hit the rehab circuit like never before. Until then, don’t expect him to be tweeting much.