How Far Will Aaron Colvin Fall in the 2014 NFL Draft Due to His ACL Tear?

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How Far Will Aaron Colvin Fall in the 2014 NFL Draft Due to His ACL Tear?
LM Otero

In January, disaster struck former University of Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin in the form of a torn ACL, and now, his NFL draft future is at risk.

According to ESPN.com's Jake Trotter, the Big 12 standout went down during a Senior Bowl practice. Colvin's agent, Ken Sarnoff, made the announcement via Twitter shortly after the injury occurred. Six days later, he followed up with the expected surgery announcement. 

Three months removed from surgery, Colvin likely still has a long road ahead of him before returning to the field. Furthermore, the unfortunate timing of the injury may knock him far down draft boards—and possibly off them altogether.

Or will it?

Despite the nightmare of a serious predraft injury, Colvin has multiple very important factors working in his favor.

First, as Sarnoff mentioned, he tore only his ACL. Colvin also implied to Vic Ketchman of Packers.com that the injury occurred via a non-contact mechanism: "It was simple one-on-ones. The receiver was running a dig route. I heard a pop."

Presumably, Colvin attempted to quickly change directions in coverage and planted his foot in an awkward manner. If such a scenario leads to a player's knee facing one direction but traveling in another, it can twist sharply inward and tear the ACL.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a somewhat similar injury last year. A replay from Fox Sports—courtesy of a GIF from AOL's Sporting News—clearly shows a classic non-contact ACL mechanism:

Fox Sports via AOL Sporting News

As seen, while going out of bounds, a slight nudge to the left side of Bradford's midsection subtly altered the direction he faced, forcing him to plant his left foot with his toes pointed out and away from the center of his body. However, his momentum still carried him toward the sideline, pulling his left knee inward as he fell to the right, causing the injury.

Fox Sports via AOL Sporting News with edits by the author.
After a shove to his left side, Sam Bradford's momentum and the direction his toes and knee faced fell out of sync, causing his ACL tear.

A similar perfect storm of momentum shifts probably led to Colvin's isolated ACL injury.

In contrast, direct hits to the outside of the leg or knee—such as to New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's last December—often threaten the medial collateral ligament (MCL) as well as the meniscus in addition to the ACL.

Fortunately, the prognosis following an isolated ACL tear is quite often very good—especially with Dr. James Andrews leading the surgical team.

During ACL reconstruction surgery, surgeons often actually replace the torn ACL with a piece of the athlete's own patellar tendon.

Over the remaining days before the draft, NFL medical staffs will certainly discuss items such as Colvin's quadriceps strength, range of motion and knee mechanics.

Where does that put Colvin come May 8th?

When draft weekend kicks off, the former Sooner will be in the middle of post-operative week No. 13. All told, he will likely require somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-45 weeks to fully recover—or roughly eight to 10 months.

Such a time frame does not exclude the possibility of Colvin contributing in 2014. However, asking a rookie cornerback to return from an ACL and learn NFL schemes in less than a year may prove too tall an order if his recovery approaches the later end of the above range.

In other words, a team willing to call Colvin to the draft podium early must be willing to risk a medical "redshirt" of sorts. Yet given the hype that surrounded him prior to his injury, it is not hard to envision such a scenario. Matt Miller—Bleacher Report's NFL draft lead writer—graded him as a potential late first-round prospect before he went down.

On the other hand, a team looking for immediate help at the cornerback position may take Colvin out of consideration altogether.

When will Aaron Colvin be drafted?

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Either way, while the ACL tear is certainly concerning, if Colvin's medicals check out—as well as they can at this point, anyway—his injury may not become the complete and utter draft disaster many thought it would.

After all, just last year, the San Francisco 49ers selected former University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round just six months after he suffered a dislocated knee—a far worse injury than Colvin's by any stretch of the imagination.

Whether or not Lattimore will pan out remains to be seen, but Colvin's injury and rehab carry much less of a burden. A team with ample draft picks—such as the 49ers' 11—may very well decide to take on the risk in the middle or late rounds.

And just where is Colvin's next predraft visit, according to National Football Post's Aaron Wilson?

The 49ers.

 

Dr. Dave Siebert is a resident physician at the University of Washington who plans to pursue fellowship training in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine.

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