NFL Network and NFL.com insider Jason La Canfora has news from literally one of the biggest prospects in the draft. Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman should be cleared before training camp, according to his agent Albert Elias.
La Canfora says that Chapman is projected to be a second or third-round pick. This seems accurate as he is probably the best zero technique two-gap nose tackle in the draft, which is a key position in 3-4 defenses. He played through a torn ACL to be part of the Crimson Tide national title run, and I agree with La Canfora's assessment that he actually played well enough on the injury to be a mid-round pick.
Chapman's surgery was done by famous sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who will release a letter next week stating that Chapman will be cleared to return to the field before training camp per Elias, according to La Canfora.
A torn ACL sounds scary, but Chapman is an interior defensive line prospect, who is not as affected by any loss of explosion or speed as wide receivers, running backs, or cornerbacks are when the injury strikes. Chapman has already played at a high level with the injury, so he should only be better when he returns from reconstructive surgery.
This letter should remove any hesitation teams have to draft Chapman despite his inability to work out during the spring. Profootballtalk's visit and workout tracker lists the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans as teams that have had or will have a visit or private workout with Chapman, but they might not be among the most likely teams to take him. Here are my favorites:
Indianapolis Colts—The Colts need an anchor in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense. Chapman could be there in the early third.
Pittsburgh Steelers—Casey Hampton, the Steelers current nose tackle, will be 35 this year, and he's coming off of his own ACL surgery. Chapman would be a solid late second-round pick.
Houston Texans—Wade Phillips defense can function with more of a penetrating nose tackle, but Chapman would still be an outstanding addition to one of the league's best units.
Kansas City Chiefs—Often linked to more athletic nose tackle prospect Dontari Poe in the first, the Chiefs could use a stout player like Chapman if they go another direction early in the draft. They might even be able to wait until their third-round pick to grab him.
Carolina Panthers—Head coach Ron Rivera could be eyeing an eventual move to a 3-4 and Chapman would be an instant upgrade to one of the worst DT groups in the league. The Panthers don't have a third-round pick, so they would have to take Chapman in the second.