Alabama RB Trent Richardson delayed his workout three weeks from the original pro day date of March 7 because of minor knee surgery last month. He ran his 40-yard dash and did positional drills today, but before we get into that, Footballguys.com staff writer Dr. Jene Bramel weighed in for me on the medical implications of Richardson's injury and surgery:
According to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Richardson’s knee injury occurred after a minor collision while practicing before the BCS Championship.
“Somebody was laying on the ground and he ran by him and the facemask caught his knee,” Saban told reporters in early March. “He didn't think it was a big deal, didn't even complain about - didn't even get treatment. Then after he played in the game and it didn't sort of go away like some nagging injuries should, we checked it out further and did an MRI on it. It was a real minor injury. Very minor."
ESPN's Chris Mortensen was told by Dr. James Andrews that Richardson’s injury was a minor tear to the lateral meniscus that required only a small removal of tissue. That’s reasonable given what we know of the mechanism (likely a twisting blow as his knee glanced off the facemask), the imaging and surgery (a minor procedure – probably arthroscopic – for a minor MRI finding), and length of rehab (ready for a pro day style workout in six weeks).
The meniscus cushions the knee joint and every meniscal injury is different. Small tears or tears in area of adequate blood supply generally carry a good long-term prognosis. Larger tears, particularly those in an area where the meniscus must be removed rather than repaired, increase the likelihood of chronic pain and swelling or the need for repeated procedures and microfracture surgery in the future. All indications are that Richardson's injury carries the most reassuring prognosis.
Expect NFL teams interested in Richardson to examine his knee and medical records closely, doing the same due diligence they did on Da’Quan Bowers last year, who fell from the top half of the first round into the third round, very likely due to concerns over what was later reported to be a much more extensive surgical procedure than initially suggested.
That's where the definitive information ends in this article. Richardson told ESPN before that he was 75 to 80 percent. Richardson said afterward that he was at "100 percent. I'm going to get better and better as the days go by." That's almost a contradiction because 100 percent implied you can't get any better.
Then there's 40 times. SI.com's Tony Pauline had an "unofficial best" of 4.59. Another report had Richardson between 4.45 and 4.49 unofficially. While Richardson was never known to have breakaway speed, this is somewhat disappointing for a player that could go as high as No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns, who had GM Tom Heckert and Head Coach Pat Shurmur in attendance.
Dr. Bramel noted in his twitter feed that Richardson had more to lose by missing this self-imposed deadline than by running slower than expected. Also reassuring is Pauline's report that Richardson was "fluid and smooth changing direction and practiced with his feet underneath him all morning."
Richardson is still more likely than not to end up in the top six picks of the draft, but he failed to create the kind of buzz that fellow top-10 prospects like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Justin Blackmon created at their home workouts.