NCAA

NFL Draft Blog: How Injuries Affect Draft Stock

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How To Value Myles Jack And Jaylon Smith

One of the worst things that a prospect can do during his last year in college is getting injured, especially a knee injury. Even though a player may be supremely talented, teams will shy away from them in the draft if they don’t definitely know whether they will fully recover.

Last year, Todd Gurley was the big name who was coming off a knee injury; however, the St. Louis Rams were adequately satisfied with the progress of his rehabilitation, which led to them drafting him in the first round at pick No. 10.

This year, it appears as though UCLA’s Myles Jack is on a similar arc as Gurley, as his stock hasn’t appeared to take much of a hit despite a knee injury that kept him out most of his junior year. The reason behind this is that Jack has been fully cleared to resume football activities by his surgeon and his pro day showed that he is still a supremely athletic player, despite the knee being at only 80 percent.

Another supremely talented linebacker is on the other side of the spectrum. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith was neck and neck with Jack in terms of talent; however, Smith’s knee injury has caused his stock to be in free fall. Smith injured his knee in the bowl game against Ohio State and he hasn’t received much good news since. There is fear that Smith has nerve issues in his knee and it could cause him to never play football again, which could cost him to not even be drafted.

The medical rechecks in Indianapolis will be critical for Smith and will determine whether the supremely talented linebacker will be drafted.

Best Running Backs After Ezekiel Elliot

Everyone who is anyone knows that Ezekiel Elliot is the best running back in this draft; however, how the class breaks down after varies from person to person and team to team. Derrick Henry is the biggest name, but the Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t have the type of skill set that appeals to every team.

Kenneth Dixon is another popular name as he can win in every facet of offense. He can perform well in a gap or zone team, but he doesn’t have the game-breaking ability that some other running backs have. Devontae Booker has the capabilities to be extremely productive for a zone team, but he isn’t consistent with his reads and he tends to bounce the ball outside too much.

Jordan Howard is a name generating a lot of buzz as a downhill bruising running back, but like Henry, he doesn’t fit what every team wants. The last name garnering some attention as running back No. 2 in this draft is Paul Perkins. He is the most elusive running back in this class, but he lacks the power to be an every-down running back for some teams.

Underrated Prospect Of The Week

William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston

When you look at most of the cornerback rankings, you usually see two players at the top of every list. Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves are widely regarded as the top two cornerbacks in this draft and bonafide first-round picks; however, there is a player who may be better that both of them in this draft class.

William Jackson III is an extremely talented cornerback that should garner top-20 consideration. He has great height and length (6-foot and 31.25-inch arms) to go along with great athleticism (4.37-second 40-yard dash). He isn’t just measurables, however, as he has a ton of tangible football skills that you can see throughout his career at Houston.

He plays with great flexibility and he can backpedal, turn and run with the best of them. He plays with great football intelligence as he understands tendencies and he knows when he can gamble and when he can’t. Furthermore, he may have some of the best ball skills in this draft class as he routinely challenges and beats receivers at the catch point.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com