When it comes to NFL players, one of the primary signs of leadership is that players can make it to the field every game. But, the reality is that, whether it’s the Minnesota Vikings or one of the other 31 NFL teams, a player’s best ability is his availability, and that includes being able to stay healthy and stay out of trouble. As Brad Childress famously described it, “don’t be the guy” – the player who gets in trouble with the law.
However, when it comes to college players entering the NFL, there are multiple red flags that can impact their stock with certain teams. Whether they are injuries or running afoul of the law, there can be reasons why a player who grades out well from the talent standpoint remains on the board longer than they should.
As we approach the start of the draft, here is a look at the offensive players who may have some red flags against them that will have some teams concerned about whether they can be a long-term contributor.
Many things factor in, even injuries that didn’t require surgery – just ask T.J. Clemmings about that, as a calcified break in his foot that was never diagnosed in college saw his draft stock drop from a presumptive second-round pick to the fourth round.
If there are players who are expected to go high in the draft, but stay on the board longer than expected, these could be the reasons.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa – He had sports hernia surgery after 2014 season. He wore a brace on his left knee all of the 2016 season after suffering an injury during fall camp.
Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech – He tore his right ACL as a freshman in 2013 and fractured his left wrist in 2015.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss – He was suspended for seven games by his high school team as a freshman and kicked off the team as a sophomore before transferring schools. He tore his left ACL during his 2013 spring game for Clemson, was benched during the 2014 spring game for being disrespectful to coaches and kicked off the team for what was deemed “conduct detrimental to the team.” He was arrested in Buffalo, N.Y. in December 2014 for refusing to leave a bar, which led to seven charges initially being filed after he threatened to come back with an AK-47. He had sports hernia surgery in the spring of 2016 and tore his left ACL and meniscus in November 2016.
Nathan Peterman, Pitt – He tore ligaments in his throwing hand in 2013 and required surgery.
Seth Russell, Baylor – He suffered a neck fracture in 2015 and broke his left ankle in 2016 – both injuries requiring surgery.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson – He tore his left ACL in 2014 and had surgery.
Davis Webb, Cal – He tore his left (non-throwing) labrum in 2014.
Corey Clement, Wisconsin – He suffered a sports hernia injury in 2014 that required two surgeries. He was suspended one game in 2015 after being cited for two counts of disorderly conduct. Missed time in each of the last two seasons with three separate left ankle injuries and a hamstring injury.
James Connor, Pitt – He suffered a torn right MCL in 2015 that required surgery. In 2015, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State – He underwent right rotator cuff surgery as a high school sophomore and needed a second surgery in college on the same shoulder. He was arrested in high school for vandalizing a car as well as paying a $550 fine from the Tallahassee Animal Services for chaining three pit bull puppies together by the neck. He was arrested in July 2015 on allegations of punching a woman in the face at a Tallahassee bar, but the case was dropped due to lack of video evidence.
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee – He initially enrolled at Alabama, but was suspended for behavioral issues while redshirting in 2013 after having his knee scoped. He was given his release and played 2014 at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where he was charged with driving without a license.
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma – He was suspended for one year for the now-infamous incident in which he punched and knocked out a woman at a restaurant in Norman, resulting in several facial fractures. He submitted an Alford plea to avoid jail time, but was placed on probation for one year and fined $1,200.
Samaje Perine – He tore his left MCL and LCL as a high school sophomore. He had surgery following the 2015 season to repair ligament damage in his left ankle. He missed almost a month in 2016 with a hamstring injury.
Noah Brown, Ohio State – He missed the entire 2015 season after breaking his right tibia and fibula.
Amara Darboh, Michigan – He had surgery as a high school senior to repair a torn left labrum. He was granted a redshirt in 2013 after suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his right foot.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan – Suffered a right ankle injury during preparation for the Senior Bowl that required surgery, meaning the first-round prospect missed the Senior Bowl, Combine, pro day and potential team workouts.
John Ross, Washington – After the 2014 season, he had microfracture surgery to repair a torn right meniscus. He missed all of 2015 with a torn left ACL and meniscus and had right labrum surgery in March 2017.
Artavis Scott, Clemson – He had surgery in December 2015 to repair a torn right meniscus.
DeDe Westbrook, Oklahoma – He ruptured his small intestine as a high school senior and was advised to quit playing football. He has had three run-ins with the law for domestic violence dealing with the mother of his children.
Mike Williams, Clemson – He missed four games in 2013 with torn ankle ligaments and missed all but one game in 2015 after suffering a neck fracture.
Billy Brown, Shepherd – He tore his left ACL at the end of the 2012 season and missed all of 2013.
Jake Butt, Michigan – He tore his right ACL and meniscus during winter conditioning in early 2014 then tore his right ACL again in the 2016 Sugar Bowl against Florida State and wasn’t able to work out at the Combine and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 preseason.
Cethan Carter, Nebraska – He missed four games in 2014 with a broken right foot and spring practice in 2015 after having surgery to repair a broken left foot. He also missed three games last season with a significant elbow injury.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss – He suffered a high left ankle sprain in 2013 that required surgery.
Cole Hikutini, Louisville – He had PCL surgery during 2016 spring practice, missed two games with a shoulder injury during the season and didn’t work out at the Combine because of a right knee injury.
George Kittle, Iowa – In 2013-16, he missed time with back spasms, a left ankle scope, a right MCL sprain, an AC joint sprain and a significant lower ankle sprain.
Jordan Leggett, Clemson – As a freshman in 2013, he missed two games with a right MCL sprain and wore a brace the rest of the season. In 2014, he sustained a torn right meniscus and strained MCL, an injury he aggravated later in the season that resulted in him missing the Tigers’ bowl game.
Eric Saubert, Drake – He had his right labrum surgically repaired his senior year of high school and redshirted in 2012. He also missed three games in 2014 with a right PCL strain.
Jonnu Smith, Florida International – Suffered a torn left ACL in 2015 and missed the final three games of the 2016 season after his pregnant girlfriend intentionally poured boiling water over him (he suffered severe burns on his head, neck and shoulder).
Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas – Was suspended from the Belk Bowl in January for theft. All players were given a $450 Belk gift card, but Sprinkle took $1,500 in items and attempted to leave the store with them.
Zach Banner, USC – Following his redshirt season in 2012, he had hip impingement surgery on both hips.
Adam Bisnowaty, Pitt – He missed four games in 2013 with a back sprain, two games in 2014 with left ankle sprain and was suspended for a team violation for another game and missed one game in 2015 with a high left ankle sprain.
Garett Bolles, Utah – A troubled teen who was involved with gangs, drugs and alcohol, he attended five different schools due to multiple suspensions and expulsions and was arrested in 2010 for vandalizing a rival team’s field. However, he has turned his life around since attending Utah and is now married with a child.
Dion Dawkins, Temple – He needed surgery in 2013 after suffering a broken right foot. He was arrested in March 2015 for his involvement in a campus fight that left a student severely injured. Charges were later dismissed due to a lack of evidence linking him directly to the assault.
Antonio Garcia, Troy – He played in just six games in 2013 after suffering a right knee injury that required microfracture surgery.
Conor McDermott, UCLA – He has a history of shoulder problems, including a dislocated shoulder as a high school senior playing basketball in 2012, a separated left shoulder that required surgery in 2013 and was unable to lift at the Combine due to a shoulder injury.
Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin – He had surgery after the 2016 season for a torn labrum in his right hip that prevented him from working out at the Combine.
Cam Robinson, Alabama – In May 2016, he was arrested in his hometown of Monroe, La., for possession of a controlled substance, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen gun. The local district attorney declined to prosecute, but the school enforced mandatory drug tests, a mental health consultation, community service and required ride-alongs with local law enforcement. He didn’t lift at the Combine due to injuries to both shoulders.
Chad Wheeler, USC – He required left shoulder surgery as a high school senior. He missed the final six games of the 2014 season after sustaining a torn right ACL. He was suspended for the 2015 Holiday Bowl after an altercation with police in which officers reported he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at his apartment, injured his hands punching walls and windows and had to be taken down with bean bag guns. He was placed in protective custody for psychological evaluation. He missed two games in 2016 while hobbled with plantar fasciitis.
Isaac Asiata, Utah – He missed the Combine after having Lisfranc surgery on his right foot.
Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State – He was arrested in January 2013 while a freshman at Florida and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, driving a scooter he claimed he purchased, but the scooter was stolen and he was driving with a suspended license.
Jermaine Eluenunor, Texas A&M – Has had multiple instances of suffering from concussion symptoms, which will scare off some teams.
Danny Isidora, Miami – He missed 10 games in 2013 after having surgery on a broken left foot and tore his left meniscus in 2015.
Nico Siragusa, San Diego State – He’s a legitimate tough guy who has played through injuries, but they’ve included a torn right labrum, a significant right ankle sprain and a dislocated thumb.
Dan Feeney, Indiana – He redshirted in 2013 with a Lisfranc fracture in his right foot and missed four games in 2016 with a concussion.