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How will season-ending injuries impact NFL draft hopefuls?

Marvin Wilson

 

Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little entered the season as one of the top offensive tackles.

But he suffered a dislocated knee in the team’s season-opening win over Northwestern, forcing the 6-foot-7, 309 pound junior to have knee surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

It’s unknown if Little will try to make this a redshirt season or if he will enter the draft.

If he does declare early, though, there are some who still view him as a potential early pick, citing his athleticism, size and strength.

“Little will have a tough road to recovery ahead of him, and his draft stock will surely fall a bit as a result of his injury,” writes Jacob Infante of The Draft Wire. “However, his tape is good enough to still warrant using an early pick on him.”

Little may have been one of the more prominent players to suffer a season-ending injury, but he’s far from the only one as the season nears its end.

Other notable players who suffered season-ending injuries include:

  • Oregon TE Jacob Breeland (Sr.): Suffered a knee injury in an early October game vs. Colorado.
  • Virginia CB Bryce Hall (Sr.): Suffered a broken ankle in an October game against Miami that required surgery. Timeline on return is unknown.
  • Notre Dame DL Daelin Hayes (Sr.): Suffered should injury that required labrum surgery in early-season win over Virginia. May seek medical redshirt.
  • Alabama LB Dylan Moses (Jr.): Suffered torn ACL before season started.
  • Fresno State OG Netane Muti (Jr.): Suffered a Lisfranc foot injury that required surgery after playing in the first three games. Suffered a reptured Achilles in second game of 2018 and missed freshman season in 2016 with similar injury. May seek medical redshirt.
  • TCU OT Lucas Niang (Sr.): Suffered a hip injury prior to team’s Oct. 26 win vs. Texas (he still played in the game). Underwent surgery to repair a torn hip labrum, according to media reports, with a projected three- to four-month recovery window.
  • Notre Dame Edge Julian Okwara (Sr.): Broke his fibula in team’s last game.
  • Wake Forest LB Justin Strnad (Sr.): Suffered a ruptured bicep tendon in October win over Florida State.
  • Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace (Jr.): Suffered a torn ACL in practice late in October.
  • Florida State DT Marvin Wilson (Jr.): Suffered a hand injury in November game vs. Miami and had surgery.

Hall, Little, Moses, Niang and Wilson were all considered first-round prospects by some draft analysts early in the draft process.

Now? Where they land in the draft largely depends on their health checkups at the Combine and beyond.

“Well a lot depends on the injury and when it occurs in the season,” said Steve Shoup, creator and co-founder of Fanspeak On the Clock draft simulator. “ACL and Achilles injuries are among the scarier injuries, though even (those types of injuries) might not have a major impact on a players stock.

“If the injury occurs early enough that the player should be ready by some point their rookie year, then it might slide a player down maybe half a round or less. If I think a player will need a ‘redshirt’ season, then it would be tough to draft them in the first two rounds, and I’d be hesitant in rounds 3 and 4 as well. These are the rounds where you find your early contributors and starters, so that is what you are passing up to take an injured player.”



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