By: Zach Hernandez (@Zachhernan)
With the 2017 NFL Draft under three weeks away, I decided to take a look at some current NFL players who were injured coming out of college to see how they’ve panned out. There are plenty of possible 1st rounders in this upcoming draft with injury concerns. Let’s take a look:
- Leonard Fournette RB Louisiana State – chronic ankle injuries
- Dalvin Cook RB Florida State – shoulder
- Malik Hooker S Ohio State – torn labrum & hernia
- Reuben Foster ILB Alabama – torn rotator cuff
- Corey Davis WR Western Michigan – sankle injury
- Mike Williams WR Clemson neck injury
- Jonathan Allen DE Alabama – shoulder arthritis
- Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State – repeated hamstring injuries
- John Ross WR Washington – multiple knee surgeries & labrum tear
- Sidney Jones CB Washington – torn Achilles tendon
- Takkarist McKinley DE/OLB UCLA – torn labrum & broken glenoid
- Ryan Ramcyzk OT Wisconsin – torn labrum
- Jake Butt TE Michigan – two torn ACLs
When the Draft finally does arrive, most of these players will hear their names called in the first or second round. However, as we all know, not all draft picks pan out as expected. Now let’s take a look at how some notable injured NFL players coming out of college have fared up until now. I will not be including the past two or three drafts, as it is still too soon to come to a conclusion on those players.
2013 NFL Draft
The 2013 draft was an interesting one. The Kansas City Chiefs selected #1 overall and went with OT Eric Fisher from Central Michigan. With a whopping seven of the first ten picks no longer on the same team – OT Luke Joeckel – Jaguars, DE Dion Jordan – Dolphins, DE Ezekial Ansah – Lions, LB Barkevious Mingo – Browns, OG Jonathan Cooper – Cardinals, CB Dee Milliner – Jets, & OG Chance Warmack – Titans. We’ll start with CB Dee Milliner.
Dee Milliner CB Alabama
Dee Milliner was regarded as the best or second best cornerback, alongside DJ Hayden, in this draft class. Noted ESPN & NFL draft expert Mel Kiper JR had Milliner going as high as six overall to Cleveland. In the end, Milliner went ninth overall to the New York Jets. It was a bit of a confusing pick as New York had just let go of their own injury-riddled CB in Darrelle Revis. Let’s take a look at his injury history coming out of Alabama.
- Milliner had a total of five surgeries before the draft including:
- Right knee scope
- Sports hernia
- Right tibia stress fracture
- Right shoulder
- Left shoulder (torn labrum)
- Also, Milliner missed one game his JR year with a strained hip flexor
Post Draft Injuries
- Two hamstrings
- High-ankle sprain
- Quadriceps muscle
- Ruptured Achilles tendon
- Torn tendon in right wrist
- 21 games played
- 12 games started
- 50 total tackles
- 13 assists
- 19 passes defended
- 3 interceptions
Dee Milliner unfortunately never was able to do much on the field for the Jets, due to repeated injuries. While the team raved about his abilities in practice, it was one injury after another that kept Dee on the sidelines for the majority of his time in the Big Apple. He came into the Jets off-season program with a torn labrum in his shoulder which caused him to miss a substantial amount of time. After Milliner was drafted ninth overall to the Jets, he missed 27 of 48 games. In 2016, Milliner was waived by the Jets and he is still currently a free agent.
Dion Jordan DE Oregon
Dion Jordan came to Oregon as a tight end. In 2010, he switched to defensive end which was where Jordan fit best in the field. When he started for the first season in 2011, when he put up 7.5 sacks. He followed that up with a disappointing 5 sack senior season. Miami still traded with the Oakland Raiders – up to #3 overall to select Jordan. Making Dion the highest selected Duck since quarterback Joey Harrington. He was drafted with the intention of terrorizing quarterbacks alongside Cameron Wake & Jared Odrick. With combine stats of 6’6″, 248lbs., 10 inch hands, & a 4.54 40 time, it was easy to see why the Dolphins thought that. However, that didn’t quite happen for Miami. Let’s check out Jordan’s injury history coming out of Oregon. Before the draft, Jordan announced to teams he would be out for three to four months with a shoulder injury.
- Torn labrum
- None – Dion was able to fully recover from his torn labrum and even appear in all 16 games his rookie year for the Dolphins.
- 26 games played
- 1 game started
- 3 passes defended
- 3 sacks
- 39 tackles
- 7 assists
Although Dion Jordan was able to fully recover from his torn labrum, he is still regarded as a huge bust for Miami. After Jordan’s rookie year, he was suspended on July 3, 2014 for the first four games of the 2014 season for violation the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Dion violated the same policy again in September 2014, resulting in an additional two game suspension. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the bad news didn’t stop there. Dion violated the policy again for the third time in April of 2015! That was the last straw for commissioner Roger Goodell and he slapped Jordan with a full year-long suspension. Although Jordan did not test positive a third time, one of his test samples was found to be diluted which is regarding as a strike.
He was conditionally reinstated by the commissioner in July, 2016. One of the conditions was that Jordan sought treatment in Miami before he was allowed to play in a preseason game. However on March 31, 2017, Jordan’s time in Miami came to an abrupt stop as he was released by the Dolphins after failing a physical. He is now currently a free agent.
Cornelius “Tank” Carradine Florida State
Cornelius “Tank” Carradine began his collegiate career at Butler Community College. He later transferred to Florida State to play under head coach Jimbo Fisher. Tank Carradine was widely regarded as first round talent. However, Tank suffered a torn-ACL injury in November of 2012. Tank was selected in round 2 at #40 overall by the San Francisco 49ers. He was thought of a huge steal at the time, even with the knowledge that he would not be immediately available. Let’s take a look at how Carradine’s career has played out thus far.
- Torn ACL 2012
- None, Tank has been able to stay healthy after his torn ACL coming out of Florida State
- 37 games played
- 1 game started
- 40 tackles
- 17 assists
- 4.0 sacks
- 1 forced fumble
Although Tank Carradine has stayed healthy during his time out by the Bay, he has been a fish out of water. With past coaches unable to use him correctly, it is easy to see how some can regard Tank as a bust. However, with the 49ers switching to a 4-3 defense (what Carradine played in at Florida State) Tank is going back to his original position – defensive end. The 49ers have put Tank through a roller coaster asking him to bulk up, slim down, then bulk back up. They’ve played him at defensive end, then defensive tackle, then outside-linebacker, and now they are moving him back to defensive end. Tank will have a real chance to prove himself & shine this upcoming season under Robert Saleh’s defense. The 49ers re-signed Carradine in September 2016 to a one-year extension running through 2017.
Eddie Lacy RB Alabama
Lacy was the fourth running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft at round 2, 61 overall by Green Bay; behind Giovani Bernard (CINN), Le’Veon Bell (PIT), & Montee Ball (DEN). Coming out of Alabama, Lacy was drawing lofty Frank Gore comparisons. Even though he is not the fastest, he is a powerful, down-hill runner. A partially torn hamstring dropped Lacy’s stock tremendously. Let’s take a look at how Eddie’s career has played out in the NFL up until now.
- Partially-torn hamstring
- Concussions – 2013 & 2014
- Ankle sprain
- Second ankle sprain (2016)
- 56 games played
- 53 games started
- 873 rushing attempts
- 3,842 rushing yards
- 4.4 yards per carry with a career long of 61 yards
- 24 rushing TDs
- 106 receptions
- 919 receiving yards with a career long of 67 yards
- 6 receiving TDs
- 9 fumbles
- 6 fumbles lost
Eddie Lacy had a very productive career in Green Bay. Although he always seemed to be injured & battled multiple weight issues. Lacy was simply not able to stay in shape consistently. There was some debate as to whether or not the Packers were better without Lacy in the backfield. However with Eddie on IR for the majority of last season, Green Bay had Ty Montgomery taking snaps behind Aaron Rodgers. This showed a tremendous need at the running back position. Even with that being said, Green Bay decided to not re-sign Lacy & let him test the market. On March 14, 2017 Lacy signed a one-year $5.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks with $3 million guaranteed.