After missing the past four seasons, Aldon Smith has impressed the Dallas Cowboys
There are a lot of questions around him, considering he hasn’t played since 2015. Despite that, he has received a ton of attention. Will he take over the starting job?
A high draft pick comes with high expectations. You can count Aldon Smith as one of the few players to blow those expectations out of the water. To put it into perspective, he averaged just over 1.0 sack per game in his first two seasons combined.
The issues with the former seventh overall pick had nothing to do with his talent or production. Smith had problems with the police and substance abuse. His off-field issues during his NFL career started in 2012 and continued through 2018.
Despite such a long history of off-field issues, owner Jerry Jones decided to give Smith a shot at returning to the NFL. Considering it has been a while since his last issue with the police and the structure of his contract, it is a good risk to take.
What are the Dallas Cowboys saying about Smith?
There was speculation around what kind of shape Smith would be in after such a lengthy absence from the NFL. Way back in May, new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy explained that Smith was bigger and in better shape than when he played with the San Francisco 49ers.
That is very high praise, especially when you realize that he was a first-team All-Pro during that time. Being in better shape should only help.
While being in good shape is great, it is only one step of the way. The next test would come during training camp where he is finally doing drills with the team. I think quarterback Dak Prescott described Smith’s performance to DallasCowboys.com thus far the best.
“Damn sure doesn’t look like he hasn’t played in five years. Doesn’t play like it. Energy would never tell you that.”
Some would say that this isn’t a good evaluation because of the injuries along the offensive line and that Dak may be exaggerating because he is a teammate. To get a clearer view, the preseason would be great. Unfortunately, there isn’t one this season.
The first real test Smith will get is on September 13th when the Dallas Cowboys play against the Los Angeles Rams. He will likely line up against a two-time first-team All-Pro in offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. It will not be an easy task.
If the Cowboys coaches and players are being honest, then there is no doubt that Smith will take over the starting job. We may even see him lead the team in sacks as Robert Quinn did in 2019. It is not too far-fetched to hope for a double-digit sack season.