Jaylon Smith has not ruled out playing in 2016 despite substantial concerns over a knee injury after the Dallas Cowboys took him in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Viewed as argubaly the best player in the draft at one point, Smith suffered a torn ACL and LCL playing for Notre Dame in January.
With Smith still recovering from nerve damage relating to that injury, he was not expected to go as early as pick 34, which the Cowboys used to select the linebacker.
"It's been the most challenging time of my life, but at the same time, it's the best time of my life, where my dream has just come true," Smith said.
"I've been wanting to play in the NFL since I was 7 years old.
"For me, it's just progressing each and every day [with the injury]. I've been running for three-and-a-half weeks now.
"It's just a process, and time is definitely a place where you have to be patient. I've been killing it."
On his prospects of playing in 2016, Smith added: "I get different sensations every day with the nerve, but it's just timing.
"I'm only three-and-a-half months out, so time will definitely tell, but the knee is fine.
"That was cleared at the medical recheck, that the knee won't have any issues. It's just a timing issue for the nerve. It's too early in the process to tell."
Another player who slipped because of a knee injury, Myles Jack was taken in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars despite talk of the linebacker possibly needing microfracture surgery.
"I definitely wanted to go to Jacksonville. It's just the ideal place I really wanted to go," Jack said.
"I'm just excited to be part of a defense like that. Being a part of that I think is going to be a good situation. It's just an ideal situation. ... It's a perfect pick, perfect fit.
"I'm 100 per cent healthy. I'm clear. The knee shouldn't be a concern anymore. There's nothing else to talk about. I'm ready to play ball."