Every draft there are risers and fallers, each with their own individual reasons as to why.
Here we focus on the health of key prospects heading into the NFL Draft, as this is a substantial factor in where they will land. All teams have completed their medical evaluations and created their Big Boards with some leaving players off due to injury concerns.
Outlined below are ProFootballDoc’s concerns regarding the 2021 RB draft class.
Najee Harris Injury History
Multiple foot and ankle sprains during his time at Alabama will lead to careful examination but barring surprise, Najee Harris should grade out medically fine.
In 2018, Harris suffered foot and ankle sprains but did not miss any games. In 2019, Harris suffered an ankle sprain but didn't miss time. In 2021, he again suffered an ankle sprain in the National championship game but didn't miss time.
In the future, there may be consideration to have his ankle ligaments tightened up to avoid these in-season injuries but that should only result in a minimal downgrade. Expect Harris to be the first running back taken in the 2021 draft after dominating college football with his rush and receiving skills resulting in 50 total touchdowns in the last two years.
Trey Sermon Injury History
At ProFootballDoc.com we don't like using the injury prone label, especially when it comes to traumatic injuries, but that will be Trey Sermon's challenge heading into the NFL draft.
Sermon has dealt with a long list of injuries in his collegiate career but has played well as a complementary back at both Oklahoma and Ohio St. The list includes a vertebral fracture, MCL tear, ACL/LCL tear and a SC joint dislocation. The SC joint dislocation was suffered on his first carry in the National Championship game. The Ohio St. running back headed to the hospital soon after to have the joint relocated. This high-profile injury should be of minimal concern and is similar to what Tyreek Hill suffered early in the 2019 season.
Sermon has been very consistent, averaging over 700 rushing yards in four years while totaling a career high 13 rushing touchdowns in his sophomore season. The biggest concern to his draft stock is the long-term issues associated with his ACL/LCL surgery and injury. Sermon has returned to play well but the longevity consequences of any cartilage damage at the time of his multi-ligament knee injury is the main concern.
Pooka Williams Jr. Injury History
This is an interesting case more than a concerning medical issue but one that should be addressed. After a lawn mower accident at the age of nine, Pooka Williams Jr. has no toes on his right foot.
This hasn’t been an issue for him in his three years at Kansas as he was able to rush for more than 1000 yards twice. Medically, this is a curiosity, but Williams Jr. has performed well and will be drafted on his game film, not his foot x-rays.
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