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Cowboys Sign Jaylon Smith And Rico Gathers To Rookie Contracts

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys continue to sign members of their 2016 draft class, as they agreed to deals with second-round pick Jaylon Smith and sixth-round pick Rico Gathers on Friday morning.

Smith, the No. 34 overall pick, and Gathers, the team's final pick in this year's draft, give the Cowboys six signatures among their rookie draft class. They signed first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott and sixth-round picks Anthony Brown, Kavon Frazier and Darius Jackson on Wednesday.

The terms of Smith's contract aren't yet known, but the structuring of rookie salaries means it'll likely be in line with last year's No. 34 overall pick. Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donovan Smith, the 34th pick in last year's draft, signed a four-year deal worth roughly $6.1 million.

In the three weeks since he was drafted by Dallas, all conversations about Jaylon Smith center around the devastating knee injury he suffered during his final college game. The Notre Dame linebacker tore his ACL and LCL during a Jan. 1 bowl game against Ohio State, and he suffered damage to his peroneal nerve in the process.

Smith likely would have been a top 10 draft pick had he remained healthy, but the injury wasn't enough to stop the Cowboys from taking an early chance on him. The 20-year-old has a long rehab in front of him, but the Cowboys are confident he can work his way back to his old form. It certainly helps their optimism that the physician who performed Smith's surgery, Dr. Dan Cooper, is the club's team doctor.

It's hard to pinpoint a date when Smith might be able to contribute on the field, but the Cowboys already showed their commitment by drafting him. Now, they've secured Smith's services for the foreseeable future.

Gathers comes to the NFL as one of the more intriguing prospects in this year's rookie class. The Baylor product has not played football since he was 13, opting instead for a decorated basketball career. Gathers earned All-America honors playing forward for the Bears in 2015-16, but he opted to pursue football at the conclusion of his senior season.

At 6-6, 273 pounds, Gathers has a promising blend of size and athleticism that the Cowboys hope they can tap into -- despite his lack of experience.

With Smith and Gathers in the fold, that leaves just three 2016 draft picks still unsigned. Third-round pick Maliek Collins and fourth-round picks Charles Tapper and Dak Prescott have all yet to sign on.


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