With so much at stake during the NFL Draft, teams cannot afford to make mistakes. NFL franchises have scouting reports on the numerous entrants to the draft. Ensuring these scouting reports are accurate is vital.
Because hindsight is always 20/20, it is easy to find faults in previous years’ drafts. Certainly the Cleveland Browns would have selected Tom Brady with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft had they known he would turn into one of the greatest to ever play the game. The anguish for the Browns seemingly never ends when it comes to quarterbacks.
Equally as important as evaluating a prospect’s skills on the gridiron is taking into account injury history. With that being said, injury history certainly did not deter NFL front offices from picking marquee prospects in this year’s draft, particularly in the first round.
The aforementioned Browns opened the draft with the No. 1 overall pick. Cleveland made a sound decision selecting the consensus top player in the draft, Myles Garrett. Garrett, a defensive end from Texas A&M, is an explosive pass rusher with a high ceiling.
Browns’ GM Sashi Brown indicated before the draft that he has known for months that his team would be choosing Garrett. Despite an ankle injury, which hampered him throughout the past season, Cleveland did not flinch.
In spite of suffering an ankle injury in early last season, Leonard Fournette has had NFL scouts gazing in amazement since his sophomore season in 2015. Being ineligible for the draft after that season, Fournette spent one more season at LSU prior to this year’s draft.
His injury did not give the Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected him No. 4 overall, any pause. When healthy, the mighty Fournette has earned comparisons to ex-Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson.
So long as his ankle injuries do not derail him, the running back will likely be a front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. It may be the first of many more accolades in the future.
A third player hampered by an ankle injury in the run up to the draft was Western Michigan’s speedster wide receiver Corey Davis. Davis was kept out of the combine and his university’s pro day because of the injury. Despite the injury, he feels confident with his ankle presently.
“The ankle is doing great. I expect I can be on the field tonight, if need be,” Davis commented.
The Tennessee Titans made Davis the No. 5 overall pick of the draft, but his status is uncertain. The team may hold him out of offseason workouts as a precaution, but the first wide receiver selected in this year’s draft appears ready to go on his ankle.
Ohio State safety Malik Hooker was forced to miss the scouting combine due to hip labrum and core muscle surgeries. In spite of the four to six month recovery time for the surgery, which took place in late January, the Indianapolis Colts selected the Ohio State product No. 15 overall.
Hooker earned the moniker “Malik the Freak” due to his gifted athleticism and stature. His injury concerns likely caused him to fall further in the draft than he otherwise would have. As long as he can stay on the field, Indy will have an elite talent patrolling their secondary.
Like Hooker, Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk was forced to miss the draft because of a hip labrum surgery. The Badger played only one season in Madison, after transferring to Wisconsin from D-III Wisconsin-Steven’s Point.
In spite of his injury and only one year’s worth of starting experience at the D-I level, Ramczyk was rated the top offensive tackle in the draft and selected with the final pick of the first round by the New Orleans Saints to protect quarterback Drew Brees.
The top brass at these players’ respective new teams felt confident that their injury histories would not be long-term concerns. Only time will tell if they made the right call.