CHICAGO (AP) — It was a long wait and a soft landing for Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith.
Now about those knees.
The pair of athletic linebackers with health questions went early in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, with Jacksonville trading up to grab Jack two spots after Dallas selected Smith with the No. 34 overall pick.
Jack and Smith were two of the biggest names still on the board at the beginning of the day, and Alabama running back Derrick Henry went to Tennessee at No. 45. Henry powered the Crimson Tide to the national championship last season and won the Heisman Trophy.
Jack was considered a potential top-five pick at one point, but concerns about his right knee sent him tumbling down the board. He played both ways as a freshman at UCLA and was the Pac-12 offensive and defensive newcomer of the year. But a knee injury limited him to three games last season.
“Bottom line is, man, I’m ready to go,” Jack said. “I’ll be there rookie minicamp. I’m a 100 percent healthy. I’m cleared. The knee shouldn’t be a concern anymore. I definitely proved that with my play. There’s nothing else to talk about. I’m ready to play ball.”
General manager Dave Caldwell said Jack had a great workout for the team.
“You’d never know there was anything wrong with him,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. “As far as we’re concerned there’s not right now. There’s no plan for surgeries. There’s no plan for any additional treatment. I think we’re good to go.”
Smith also was expected to be a first-round pick before he tore two ligaments in his left knee during Notre Dame’s loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Following the advice of doctors at Notre Dame and agent Eugene Parker, who passed away from cancer on March 31, Smith had Cowboys team doctor Dan Cooper perform the surgery.
“I’m going to be fine. I’ll be able to play again,” Smith said. “It’s just timing. Timing is everything and for Dallas to draft me, they’re going to get a great player. I’m looking forward to playing for a great team.”
Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones, one of the last players at the downtown Chicago theater, went to Kansas City at No. 37 and got a big ovation when he walked onstage. He gave Commissioner Roger Goodell a big hug as the crowd roared.
Jones said he has never been to Kansas City.
“I heard they got the best steak, the best barbecue … I can’t wait to get there and eat,” Jones said.
Linebacker Reggie Ragland (No. 41 to Buffalo), defensive tackles A’Shawn Robinson (No. 46 for Detroit) and Jarran Reed (No. 49 to Seattle) and cornerback Cyrus Jones (No. 60 to New England) made it five players for Alabama in the second round after center Ryan Kelly was the only one from the Crimson Tide to go on the first day. Reed was the last player in the green room.
“Not getting picked last night was a little stressful,” Ragland said. “But my family kept me calm, and I kept my dad calm, which was important. … It was a humbling feeling. You think you’re going somewhere, but God has a plan.”
Also worth noting: defensive end Noah Spence from Eastern Kentucky to Tampa Bay at No. 39, and wide receiver Michael Thomas of Ohio State to New Orleans at No. 47. Spence began his collegiate career with the Buckeyes, but was banned from the Big Ten after two failed drug tests. Thomas is the nephew for former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
Ohio State had five players go in the top 20 of the first round on Thursday.
The Browns kicked off the second round with Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, and the Titans selected Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd with the No. 33 overall pick. Dodd had three sacks in the Tigers’ loss to Alabama in the national championship game.
The Jets drafted the only quarterback to go in the second round when they took Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg with the 51st pick, and Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo went to Tampa Bay at No. 59.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap