Injury, legal red flags hanging over defensive prospects

Why are some of the top defensive prospects in the NFL draft going to drop father than their talents indicate they should? Because more than 50 of them have red flags that impact both on and off the field. Details inside.

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, whether that be staying healthy and on the field and not, as Brad Childress famously said, “don't be the guy” – the player that gets in trouble with the law.

Yesterday, we took a look at the offensive players who have red flags that will impact the decision-making process on players expected to be drafted – from the top of the draft on down. Here are the defensive players, many names that are familiar to draft fans, that may surprise some how long they last despite their talent dictating they should go earlier than they do.


Davon Godchaux, LSU – He suffered a torn ACL and LCL as a high school senior. In September 2016 and he was charged with false imprisonment and domestic abuse battery/child endangerment. Charges were dropped three days later.

Charles Harris, Missouri – He had left labrum surgery after the 2014 season and right labrum surgery during spring practice of 2016.

Tanon Kpassagnon, Villanova – He missed eight games in 2014 with a torn right MCL and meniscus.

Takkarist McKinley, UCLA – He withdrew from the Senior Bowl while recovering from a torn labrum.

Avery Moss, Youngstown – In the 2013 season, while playing for Nebraska, he was suspended from the Gator Bowl game after having been charged with two counts of public indecency for exposing himself twice to a 22-year old female on-campus convenience store employee. He was suspended for a game in 2015 for violation of team rules.

Ejuan Price, Pitt – He missed the entire 2012 season with a torn pectoral muscle. He played six games in 2013 before missing the rest of the season with a back injury. He missed the entire 2014 season with a second torn pectoral muscle.

Dawuane Smoot, Illinois – He tore a ligament in his left elbow during 2014 spring practice.

Tim Williams, Alabama – He was suspended from the team opener in 2014 for a violation of team rules and was arrested in September 2016 for possession of pistol without a permit. At the Combine, he admitted to failing multiple drug tests while playing for the Crimson Tide.

Jordan Willis, Kansas State – He tore his left meniscus during his freshman season in 2013. He tore a right thumb ligament in 2014.


Jonathan Allen, Alabama – He had right rotator cuff surgery after the 2014 season and had labrum surgery on his left shoulder after the 2015 season.

Caleb Brantley, Florida – Was arrested in July 2015 for taking off from a bowling alley after running up a $90 tab. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty after he was charged with battery for punching a woman in the face and allegedly knocking her out.

Treyvon Hester, Toledo – He tore his left labrum in 2014 and had surgery after the season and tore his right labrum in November 2016, missing the rest of the season, Toledo’s bowl game, the Shrine Game and the Combine.

Jarron Jones, Notre Dame – In 2014, he missed three games with a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot. He tore his right MCL in the fall camp of 2015 and missed the entire conference season. He opted not to run shuttles at the Combine, citing knee injuries.

Nazair Jones, North Carolina – As a 16-year old, he was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and suffered from temporary lower-body paralysis. He still gets weekly doses of Enbrel, an anti-inflammatory drug. He has missed games twice due to concussions in his college career.

Larry Ogunjobi, UNC-Charlotte – He plays hurt, but had surgery on his left labrum after his freshman season and his right labrum after his junior year.

Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama – He had committed to Alabama in the spring of 2012 when he tore his left ACL playing soccer.

Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA – He broke his foot during the 2014 spring practice and tore his left ACL in the first game of the 2015 season.

Carlos Watkins, Clemson – Suspended for two different games in 2014 for separate violations of team rules.


Ryan Anderson, Alabama – He had his left labrum surgically repaired following the 2014 season. In January 2015, he was arrested on third-degree domestic violence and criminal mischief after Anderson and a female student had an argument in which they damaged each other’s vehicles.

Alex Anzalone, Florida – He tore his right labrum during spring practice in 2013. Later in the season, he dislocated the same shoulder, ending his 2013 season. He played just two games in 2015 before suffering another shoulder injury that ended his season before it could start. He started eight games in 2016 before having his season end with a broken left forearm.

Derek Barnett, Tennessee – He had shoulder surgery following the 2014 season.

Kendell Beckwith, LSU – He tore his left ACL in November 2016 and was unable to take part in the Senior Bowl, Combine, pro day or individual team workouts. There is some question as to whether he will be healthy enough to be ready for the start of the 2017 season.

Vince Biegel, Wisconsin – He had to redshirt in 2012 after breaking his right foot. In 2016, he had surgery on a broken left foot.

Jarrad Davis, Florida – He has a long history of injuries dating back to high school, where he missed time with knee and ankle injuries. He tore his right meniscus as a sophomore in 2014. He missed all or parts of six games in 2016 with a nagging ankle injury.

Devonte’ Fields, Louisville – He originally enrolled at TCU, but that same month was arrested for marijuana possession. He was suspended the first two games of the 2013 season for an undisclosed team violation and played in just three games when he broke his right foot.  He was charged with domestic violence in 2014 for allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face and threatening her with a handgun. The charges were dismissed when Fields agreed to an anger management class, but he was permanently suspended by TCU. Once at Louisville, he played through a torn right labrum that required surgery after the 2015 season and didn’t lift at the Combine due to a left shoulder injury.

Reuben Foster, Alabama – He suffered a series of neck stingers in his first two seasons at Alabama, which was attributed to his tackling technique. He also has a history of concussions. Following the 2016 season, he skipped the Senior Bowl because he had surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff. He was dismissed from the Combine after getting in a heated argument with a hospital worker during the medical testing and was placed into the league’s substance-abuse program after providing a diluted urine sample at the Combine that counts as a positive test.

Connor Harris, Lindenwood – He played just three games in 2013 after suffering a significant shoulder injury, tearing three ligaments in the AC joint in his right shoulder.

Haason Reddick, Temple – Was a walk-on at Temple who wasn’t recruited because he fractured his femur as a high school junior and suffered a torn meniscus as a senior. In March 2105, he was arrested on charges of aggravated assault for an off-campus fight. He was able to avoid trial by entering a diversion program.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee – He tore his right labrum as a high school senior. In May 2014, he was struck by a bullet in the arm at a house party in his hometown, but the damage wasn’t significant. He tore his left labrum during spring practice of 2016 and needed surgery. Tried to play through more left shoulder injuries in the 2016 season, but his year was shut down after he had surgery to repair a biceps subluxation.

T.J. Watt, Wisconsin – After redshirting in 2013, he missed the entire 2014 season with a right patella subluxation and had the same injury to his right knee in spring practice of 2015 – requiring surgery to both knees.


Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado – He had his 2014 season cut short when he suffered a lacerated kidney. He also missed time with a turf toe injury in 2016, a problem he has endured since high school.

Gareon Conley, Ohio State – Was the subject of a troubling rape allegation this week, throwing in doubt his draft stock. Some analysts have him as the second cornerback off the board in the top half of the first round.

Corn Elder, Miami – As a freshman in 2013, his season was cut short with a torn right meniscus.

Adoree’ Jackson, USC – Although he didn’t miss much time in college, he didn’t work out at the Combine because he had right ankle surgery following the 2016 season.

Sidney Jones, Washington – He didn’t have an injury history in college, but tore his left Achilles at Washington Pro Day on March 11 and is expected to miss six to eight months at a minimum.

Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State – He was redshirted in 2014 after having surgery to repair chronic hamstring injuries, which limited him in 2015 when he played just seven games with recurring hamstring issues.

Jourdan Lewis, Michigan – On March 15, 2017, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of domestic violence stemming from an argument with his live-in girlfriend of three years.

Fabian Moreau, UCLA – He played in just three games in 2015 when his season ended with a Lisfranc fracture in his right foot. He was limited at the Combine (left shoulder) and his pro day (pectoral) and had surgery in March to repair a torn pectoral muscle he suffered lifting during his pro day. He is expected to be out four to six months.

Jalen Myrick, Minnesota – He suffered a collapsed lung in 2015 and missed the final three games of the season.

Cam Sutton, Tennessee – He missed the final six games of his college career after fracturing his right ankle.

Teez Tabor, Florida – In the summer before his freshman season in 2014, he was charged with marijuana possession. He was suspended for the season opener in 2015 for refusing to take a drug test. He was suspended for the season opener in 2016 after getting into a fight with a teammate.

Howard Wilson, Houston – He’s a third-year sophomore who was granted a medical redshirt in 2015 after suffering a torn right ACL.

Quincy Wilson, Florida – He underwent off-season surgery after the 2015 season to repair a sports hernia injury.


Nate Gerry, Nebraska – Came to the Cornhuskers with an injury history (broken wrist, torn meniscus). He tore his left meniscus in the spring practice of 2015. He was suspended for the 2016 season opener for an undisclosed violation of team rules and was suspended for the Music City Bowl for an academic violation.

Josh Harvey-Clemons, Louisville – As a sophomore at Georgia in 2013, he was suspended for the season opener for marijuana use and, later in the year, was suspended four games for a second failed drug test. That second positive test led to his dismissal from the team.

Delano Hill, Michigan – He played in just five games in 2014 after missing the opener with a broken jaw, four games with a left leg injury and being suspended for a game for violating team rules.

Malik Hooker, Ohio State – Had two surgeries Jan. 31, 2017 – one to repair his left labrum and the other to repair a hernia, which prevented him from working out at the Combine.

Eddie Jackson, Alabama – He tore his right ACL during spring practice of 2014, but returned in Week 2 of the season. In 2016, he played eight games before breaking his left leg, which kept him out of working out at the Combine.

Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami – Has a laundry list of injuries, including a broken right ankle and broken ribs in high school. He missed the entire 2014 season after having surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Marcus Maye, Florida – He was a redshirt in 2012 while rehabbing a torn right meniscus. He was suspended for the 2015 season opener for an undisclosed team violation. He played nine games in 2016 before his season was cut short by a broken left arm, which kept him from working out at the Combine.

Obi Melifonwu, UConn – In August 2012, he was arrested by campus police and charged with sixth-degree larceny. He ended his 2013 season with a torn right labrum.

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan – He had a series of minor injuries in college, but his draft stock took a big hit this week when it was announced that he had a diluted urine sample at the Combine, which counts as a positive test and will put him immediately in the league’s substance abuse program.

Damarius Travis, Minnesota – He’s a fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt in 2015 when he suffered a severely torn hamstring injury.

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