Good To Go Or Damaged Goods?

NFL Scouting's Dave-Te' Thomas examines some of the injury concerns on the offensive side of the ball as the countdown to the draft continues.

You see it happen every year — a player toils for four years in college, puts together an impressive resume, draws considerable interest from pro scouts and then, bam, an injury happens, creating a roadblock on the path to the NFL Draft. Now, that player sees his draft stock slip, red flags begin appear on team draft boards, doctor reports and further examinations play a more important part than what that player ever accomplished on the field. Welcome to the world of damaged goods. Here is a look at some of the projected draft eligibles who have injury issues that might weigh in when a team is trying to decide where to draft them.


Greg McElroy — Alabama

The Tide quarterback had a productive career, but scouts have never been impressed with his arm strength. He had a decent showing during Senior Bowl practices until suffering a broken bone in his right hand. The injury was first reported as a deep bruise, but after visiting a hand specialist in the beginning of February, it was discovered that he suffered a second metacarpal fracture and underwent surgery. He could not throw at the NFL Scouting Combine, nor during Alabama's March 9 Pro Day. Another workout was scheduled for April 5, but interest in him seemed to have waned, as Seattle was the only team to show up for his performance.

Trevor Vittatoe — Texas-El Paso

Vittatoe will never be compared to Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert, but during the first half of the 2010 season, his performance could certainly rival those two in the production department. Then it all changed in early November, as the Miners' QB injured his right ankle when he was sacked in the third quarter by Arkansas' Jake Bequette. Vittatoe, who hopped off the field, did not return to the game. Two weeks later vs. Tulsa, he injured his left ankle. He couldn't plant and couldn't get comfortable in the pocket and the team would go on to lose their final six games after beginning the season with five victories in their first six contests. Vittatoe was limited with ankle issues during the Miners' Pro Day on March 9, as his only hope of getting into training camp is as a free agent.


Darvin Adams — Auburn

Adams has been dealing with a left shoulder sprain that prevented him from performing in strength tests at the Combine. He also could not complete the jump, cone or shuttle drills due to bilateral hamstring strains. The hamstring issues continued into March, as he failed to perform in running drills at that time, leaving teams with just a mediocre 4.65 40-yard dash clocking in February to show for his efforts.

DeAndre Brown — Southern Mississippi

Left shoulder weakness prevented him from participating in weight drills.

Mark Dell — Michigan State

Dell underwent arthroscopic left knee meniscus surgery on Jan. 6 and was still hampered during the Combine, but on March 16, he clocked 4.54 in the 40, had a 33-inch vertical jump, 9'9" broad jump, 6.89 cone drill and 4.15 20-yard shuttle.

Tandon Doss — Indiana

Surgery on both areas of his groin on Dec. 2 prevented Doss from performing at the Combine. He was hampered by the injuries all year and was still unable to run for scouts during a March 10 Pro Day. On April 7, he was clocked between 4.62 and 4.67, and teams are greatly concerned that this type of injury won't linger. Targeted as an early second-rounder in January, he could be undrafted by the start of the draft's third day.

Julio Jones — Alabama

Actually, this could be a case where an injury might help a player. Jones ran a scorching 4.39 40-yard dash, clocked 6.66 in the cone drill, added a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and an 11'3" broad jump at the Combine. It was later discovered that he performed in those drills with a left foot stress fracture. Shortly after, Jones had a surgical pin inserted to address the fracture. The surgery, performed by noted Charlotte, N.C.-based foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, required a rehabilitation period that stretched through the draft and precluded Jones from auditioning again for teams before the 2011 draft. Doctors stated at the time of the successful surgery that Jones would need 6-to-8 weeks to fully recover.

Kealoha Pilares — Hawaii

The Warrior had a banner senior season and ranked among the top receptions per game leaders entering the Warriors battle vs. Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl, but he suffered a partial posterior cruciate ligament tear early in the game. Rather than undergo surgery, he opted for rehab, but was not able to compete at the Combine. On March 31, he ran 4.42 in the 40, 4.11 in the shuttle, had a 40 ?-inch vertical jump and a 10'5" broad jump, which should put him back into the late round draft picture.


Daniel Hardy — Idaho

Hardy suffered a right hamstring pull at the Texas vs. the Nation game and could not participate in drills at the Combine.

Kyle Rudolph — Notre Dame

Kyle Rudolph
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Despite being rated the top tight end prospect in the draft, Rudolph has yet to complete an entire season due to injury issues. In 2009, he sat out the Pittsburgh and Connecticut games after suffering a shoulder separation. He underwent surgery to repair his labrum on Dec. 18, as his rehabilitation process limited him in 2010 spring and fall camp. In 2010, he suffered a right hamstring pull in August camp. The injury would linger throughout the first half of the season, as he limped through the Stanford and Boston College clashes before his hamstring tore away from the bone in the Pittsburgh game. He under-went surgery to repair his hamstring on Oct. 15, missing the team's final seven contests. Rudolph did not perform at the Combine, but on April 7, he finally had his Pro Day, clocking 4.83 in the 40, 7.24 cone drill, 4.37 shuttle and had a 34 1/2-inch vertical jump.

"The main objective for me was to get out there and show everyone that the hamstring is a thing of the past," said Rudolph. "And I think I did that today. The best thing about today was the ability to go out there and compete. The volume of the work, I think that we were out there for three and a half hours and to be able to go through that and show that I am completely healthy was great."

Weslye Saunders — South Carolina

If anyone needs a 2010 "do over," it is Saunders. Before Rudolph elevated to the throne, Saunders was regarded as the "king of the hill" at the tight end position last April. He was later dismissed from the team after an exhausting NCAA investigation, did not play football in 2010 and then failed to compete at the Combine due to a left foot stress fracture. He was temporarily ineligible for the draft after his advisors failed to file his underclass declaration on time, but that was later resolved. On March 31, he ran a pedestrian 4.93 40, 4.56 shuttle, 7.48 cone drill and put up 225 pounds just 19 times. On April 1, the NFL Network reported that the former South Carolina tight end would undergo surgery to have a pin inserted into his fractured foot Friday. This type of surgery typically takes six to eight weeks to recover from.


Armando Allen — Notre Dame

Allen underwent early November right hip flexor surgery and missed the rest of the season. He put up 225 pounds 23 times at the Combine, but could not receive medical clearance to participate in agility drills. It was later revealed that he also suffered a labrum tear. On April 7, he finally ran for teams, clocking 4.59 in the 40, 4.12 shuttle and had a 10-foot broad jump. "It was a good experience for me to get back out here and run today, especially after my surgery," said Allen, who led the Irish in rushing as a sophomore and junior. "The hip felt great. It is finally back to 100 percent. It was tough to stay off it when I really wanted to train, but I did, and for the last month it has felt good. Right now, I'm feeling pretty calm about draft day. After a Pro Day like this, the only thing you can do is wait. There is not much you can do about it. I'm going to continue training because I have a class to finish out this spring."

Mark Ingram — Alabama

The player says he is completely healthy, but several teams have concerns about the condition of Ingram's left knee that was surgically repaired prior to the season opener. He ran just a 4.66 40 at the Combine, but on the Tide's Pro Day, he produced a 40-yard dash time of 4.53, hitting 1.54 in the 10-yard dash.

Bilal Powell — Louisville

Scouts were feeling that Powell was nothing more than a one-year wonder in 2010. He could not compete at the Combine due to right knee and right hamstring problems, setting up his March 10 Pro Day as critical for his draft stock. While he did run a 4.51 40, he pulled up lame with right hamstring problems, leaving teams concerned about his lack of durability.

Johnny White — North Carolina

White's 4.7 40-yard dash hurt his draft stock, and several teams are concerned that he is not fully recovered from a right clavicle fracture that he suffered during the 2010 season.


Jason Kelce — Cincinnati

Kelce was the "star" of the center class at the Combine, running 4.89 in the 40, while clocking 4.14 in the shuttle and 7.22 in the cone drill. His 9'2" broad jump was the best of all offensive linemen. What made those numbers impressive was that doctors told him he did not have to compete, as they thought his 10-pound weight loss prior to the Combine was due to the flu. It turns out he performed those drills with a ruptured appendix. He underwent surgery right after the Combine, but by the end of March, he put his weight back on, ran a 4.72 40 and put up 225 pounds 30 times.


Marcus Cannon — Texas Christian

Marcus Cannon
Margus Hunt/US Presswire
It was recently reported that Cannon was suffering from testicular cancer, but the player and school disputed the erroneous report. This week, it was revealed that he was dealing with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and will begin chemotherapy immediately. He will have more treatments over the next three months. The good news is that Cannon faces a success rate for beating the cancer of better than 90 percent. The cancer was discovered while he underwent physicals for the draft. Cannon had been diagnosed with a benign growth in his groin area four years ago.

Ben Ijalana — Villanova

Ijalana underwent sports hernia surgery on Dec. 28 and could not play in postseason all-star games, nor participate at the Combine. During his March 16 Pro Day, he appeared sluggish, as he ran 4.7 in the shuttle, 7.75 in the cone drill, 5.2 in the 40 and had a 25 1/2-inch vertical jump.

Rich Lapham — Boston College

Lapham underwent surgery to repair his left knee on Dec. 9, missing the postseason and could not participate at the Combine. He was still unable to perform during BC's late March Pro Day. Earlier in 2010, he missed time with a neck injury.

Tyron Smith — Southern California

At first, some teams thought Smith was pulling an "Andre Smith" when he left the Combine without working out in the agility tests (did bench 225 pounds 29 times). They were later informed that he attended the event after undergoing right knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear on Dec. 17. During USC's March 30 Pro Day, he further cemented his top-10 draft selection by improving his bench to 31 times, as he also ran a 1.69 10-yard dash, 4.93 in the 40 and did a 9'1" broad jump.


Garrett Chisolm — South Carolina

Chisolm was shut down after the regular season after struggling throughout the 2010 campaign with a right knee sprain. The injury required anterior cruciate ligament surgery to repair, leaving him as an observer at the Combine, along with staying on the sideline during the Gamecocks' March 30 Pro Day.

Caleb Schlauderaff — Utah

The tackle is being projected as a candidate at the offensive guard position, but he's been hampered by a left pectoral strain that prevented him from performing in the weight drills at the Combine. A left hamstring strain sidelined him from agility tests in Indianapolis. During Utah's March 29 Pro Day, his hamstring was still bothering and along with a calf strain, he still could not run for teams.

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