NFL Draft 2012: Identifying the Biggest Injury Risk at Every Position
Every NFL team spends countless hours evaluating each prospect eligible for the draft. They don't only consider athleticism, character and production when completing their evaluations. Injury history also plays a major role in the development of a team's draft board.
Significant injury concerns often result in a red flag, and could result in a major drop in a prospect's stock. However, doing homework on a prospect could result in landing a surprise contributor others overlooked. Ultimately, evaluating injury concerns is about weighing risk versus reward.
Andrew Datko, Florida State
After back to back seasons with shoulder injuries Andrew Datko deserves an injury red flag. Offensive linemen need good upper body strength to generate a push and velcro. Shoulder problems will limit Datko's ability to deliver a good initial jolt.
The concerns are heightened because the injury occurred in both shoulders and in back to back seasons. Datko's inability to get back on the field last season stopped him from showing he recovered from the problem. Teams will take a long hard look at the status of both his shoulders.
Interior Offensive Line
Peter Konz, Wisconsin
Continuing ankle problems have generated a red flag on Wisconsin's Peter Konz. Those issues forced him to miss a total of seven games in 2010 and 2011. Any time a prospect has recurring injuries to the same body part teams become concerned. They don't want to find themselves in the position the Pittsburgh Steelers are in with Maurkice Pouncey.
The center position requires stability which isn't something you can guarantee with Konz. NFL teams will heavily evaluate his ankle situation, but you can be sure there's already a red flag next to his name.
LaMichael James, Oregon
At 5'8" 194 pounds, LaMichael James lacks the ideal bulk needed to guarantee durability in the NFL. His career at Oregon featured several nagging injuries, but they really didn't cost him major time. However, NFL players are bigger, stronger and faster than those James faced in college. This means he will have to endure more powerful hits.
I elevated James on this list because of the fact he is projected as a second or third round prospect. Players coming off the board in that range must make a major impact, meaning James will see significant touches. The more touches he receives the more hits he'll take increasing his chance for injury.
Nick Toon, Wisconsin
Suffering an injury prior to the Senior Bowl really highlighted the problems Wisconsin's Nick Toon had with injuries. His career was plagued with nagging injuries such as turf toe and thigh problems. The inability to remain on the field really raises a red flag.
Toon's impressive pro day workout is sure to help his draft stock, especially because of his 4.43 40-time. However, this only increases the importance of his injury history. Teams that value workout numbers could overlook his injury history, resulting Toon coming off the board earlier than expected.
Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette
The size and quickness of Ladrius Green makes him an intriguing prospect. However, he has missed seven games during his career with varying injuries. The most worrisome issue is the reported tendonitis in his knees. Tendonitis is a chronic problem that could potentially derail a career.
Green's medical report will likely push him down in the draft. However, picking up Green in the sixth round would greatly lower the risk. Teams still need to curb their expectations as his injury problems limit his upside.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor
A lot of attention has been paid to the explosiveness of Robert Griffin III, and rightfully so. However, there hasn't been enough focus on his injury history. During his career, he missed time because of an ACL injury and concussion-like symptoms.
It appears as though he's fully recovered from the knee injury, but the concussion issue may be more uncertain. Griffin III's playing style makes him a little more vulnerable to concussions than the average quarterback.
Griffin III isn't considered such a strong prospect because of his running ability, but id absolutely plays a role. The fact that the Washington Redskins are investing the No. 2 pick (plus what the gave up to move into that spot) increases the importance of Griffin III's health status.
Chandler Jones, Syracuse
The defensive end position doesn't feature any prospects with significant injury concerns. However, Syracuse's Chandler Jones missed five games with a knee injury early in the 2011 season. Jones' value comes from his ability generate pressure on the quarterback. This is directly linked to his quickness which would be impacted by knee issues.
At this point, it appears the knee issue was an isolated situation. However, it's important to note any injuries when evaluating a prospect.
Marcus Forston, Miami
The summary of Marcus Forston's college career is a laundry list of injuries. He missed significant time in each of the past three seasons. His injuries ranged from bumps and bruises to major shoulder and ankle injuries. Forston's decision to leave school early might have been impacted by the amount of injuries he suffered.
At this point, it's unlikely that anyone considers selecting Forston before the sixth round. The best thing for Forston might be to go undrafted so he can pick his future team.
Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
There are few injuries that cause more concern than back and neck issues. Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis suffers from nagging back issues that plagued him throughout his career. He also suffered a neck injury in 2011 that resulted in him getting carted off the field.
The constant contact dealt with while playing football can be problematic to a back/neck. It only takes one awkward hit to flare up an old injury. This issue with Lewis' injury history is that these are the type of problems that can cut a career short.
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
Prospects who's playing history features missed time in three consecutive seasons warrant a red flag. Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard has missed snaps because of injuries to his toe, shoulder leg and concussion problems. This wide array of issues brings questions about his ability to play through injuries.
NFL players are expected to fight through injuries only missing time with significant issues. Based on his history, Dennard struggles to remain on the field and appears likely to miss some time during the season.
The hip injury that forced him out of the Senior Bowl didn't help help his status. At this point, it's safe to say Dennard's draft stock is in decline because of health concerns.