Jaylon Smith
Aug 26, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) tackles Oakland Raiders running back DeAndre Washington (33) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon Smith, the Dallas Cowboys’ 2016 second-round draft pick, will make his NFL regular season debut starting at middle linebacker against the New York Giants when the two face off this Sunday night.

The news comes as a slight surprise to Cowboys fans, with many anticipating Smith would be eased into the action, likely splitting time with Justin Durant during Anthony Hitchens’ injury absence. Smith comes in as a highly-touted NFL prospect that suffered a torn ACL and MCL during his final season at Notre Dame.

Jerry Jones shocked many when he drafted Smith much higher than his post-injury projections had him going in 2016. Some had him ranked as 5th-6th round prospect, yet Jones felt comfortable drafting him in the second-round of last year’s draft.

Smith’s talent was never in question. The guy was a virtual lock to be a high first-round pick before he suffered that devastating injury in a game against Ohio State.

After missing his entire rookie campaign, it appears Dallas finally is prepared to let Smith roam free, as they start him at the critical Mike Linebacker position in Rod Marinelli’s defense.

Smith has already suited up in the preseason, but a starting role in Week One likely means he’s back to being 100% and ready to make an impact for the Cowboys this season. In other Cowboys-Giants injury news, it sounds more and more like Odell Beckham Jr. will be ready to play in this weekend’s game as well.

Things sure just got a lot more exciting for this Sunday’s NFC East showdown. Tune in to the game on NBC at 8:30 PM EDT Sunday night, and stay right here at Cover32-Dallas for more Cowboys news!

-Like the Cover32-Dallas Facebook and follow Matt @MattUrben88 on Twitter.