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2016 NFL Draft rumors: Jaylon Smith not expected to last until Day 3

ESPN's Adam Schefter hears a team could draft the Notre Dame linebacker as early as the first round.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Draft hysteria has hit its zenith one day before the 2016 NFL Draft, with rumors flying around nearly every top prospect in the class. The latest concerns injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who ESPN's Adam Schefter hears should come off the board by the end of the third round.

Prior to the Fighting Irish's Fiesta Bowl game earlier this year, many draft experts rated Smith as the top overall prospect in the 2016 draft. The linebacker demonstrated sideline-to-sideline range, premier instincts and playmaking ability, an enticing package for today's NFL. However, Smith endured a debilitating leg injury during his final collegiate game, tearing multiple knee ligaments and suffering nerve damage. After league medical staffs took a look at his leg, most came away expecting him to miss the entire 2016 season and perhaps even more.

Still, Schefter believes Smith's upside has kept enough teams intrigued for him to hear his name called sometime during the first two days of the draft. The veteran league insider also reports that the linebacker could still sneak into the end of the first round.

Several teams picking at the end of Day 1 could use a player at Smith's position, among them the Green Bay Packers. A general manager would need plenty of job security in order to spend such an early pick on someone expected to miss his rookie year, and Ted Thompson certainly meets that qualification. That doesn't mean Smith ends up donning a green-and-gold hat come Thursday, but it remains a possibility.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.