ProFootballDoc's 2021 NFL Draft Injury Preview - Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
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 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 wide receiver and tight end draft class.
Amari Rodgers Injury History
Amari Rodgers dealt with a major injury in the spring of his junior season but was injury free in his final season at Clemson.
In 2019, Rodgers tore his ACL in spring practice and had surgery but managed to return in just 5 months, missing only one game. This is an abnormally quick recovery timeline and even beats Adrian Peterson's return from an ACL tear in 2012.
Although not as productive as AP in his return junior year, Rodgers did come back to have a great final season at Clemson scoring seven touchdowns on 77 receptions. The long-term concern is the associated damage, and his medical grade will be based on a current MRI.
DeVonta Smith Injury History
The Heisman Trophy winner's most public injury was when he dislocated his index finger in the National Championship game. The finger injury was severe, as the team doctor was unable to reduce on the field.
Before the injury, Smith had an eye popping 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Surgery was required to relocate the finger but this will be a non-issue going forward (See Torry Holt).
The clavicle fracture suffered in 2014 as a high school sophomore will require a follow up X-ray but should be a non-factor as the speedy wideout could be the first wide receiver selected in the draft after becoming the first WR since Desmond Howard (1991) to win the Heisman.
Sage Surratt Injury History
Sage Surratt suffered a major injury in his sophomore season at Wake Forest and opted out of 2020 season.
Surratt has not played since injuring his right shoulder versus Virginia Tech. Surratt injured his shoulder attempting to recover a loose ball and had subsequent surgery soon after.
The exact nature of the injury wasn't reported but was likely to be a shoulder instability issue causing the Demon Deacon to miss the final four games of the season.
In nine games before his shoulder injury, Surrat recorded 11 touchdowns and just over 1000 yards in what was shaping to be a fine statistical season. Medically, Surrat is currently healthy, but the bigger concern is there is no game film on him in over a year and a half.
Tamorrion Terry Injury History
Tamorrion Terry dealt with two major injuries while at Florida State In 2019, Terry suffered a meniscus tear in his right knee. He had surgery to address this injury prior to the start of 2019 preseason camp and was able to return for the season opener.
The Seminole had an exceptional sophomore season, catching 60 balls for almost 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns.
After unsuccessfully attempting to play through a knee injury during the 2020 season, Terry opted to have arthroscopic knee surgery to address the issue.
Although he will be ready for the start of the new season, the concern is for long-term arthritis which is closely associated with a lateral meniscus tear. We would not be surprised if NFL teams downgraded him somewhat based on his medicals.
Jaylen Waddle Injury History
Jaylen Waddle suffered an ankle fracture dislocation and defied odds to return in just under three months after surgery.
He was able to suit up and play in the National Championship game but noticeably limped and only managed 3 catches for 34 yards. Whether he should have played or not is a different question.
Assuming an anatomic reduction was achieved at surgery, ultimately there should be full recovery heading into his first pro season.
Before the major injury Waddle was dynamic on the field averaging 21.1 yards per catch in his final season at Alabama while amassing 17 receiving touchdowns in his three-year college career. Former Chargers and Eagles running back Darren Sproles had a similar injury with surgery early in his NFL career before continuing to have a long and productive career.
Tylan Wallace Injury History
Tylan Wallace dealt with a knee injury and groin strain that cost him one game total, but his real concern was an injury he suffered in his junior season.
Wallace tore his ACL in practice and subsequently missed the final 5 games of the season.
Before tearing his ACL, Wallace had a fantastic sophomore season at Oklahoma St as he cashed in 86 receptions, almost 1500 yards and 13 touchdowns. As long as there is no articular cartilage damage from the ACL tear, Wallace should be in good shape for the draft medically speaking and warrants a selection in the 2nd-3rd round as he dominated the Big 12 in his final three years.
Pat Freiermuth Injury History
In his final season at Penn State, Pat Freiermuth suffered a right shoulder labral tear on Halloween. Freiermuth attempted to play through the shoulder injury for two weeks before deciding for labral repair surgery.
Fortunately, the recovery is reliable and with the earlier surgery, he should be ready for parts of the OTAs and well ahead of training camp. The bulky tight end should be the second TE off the board as he has the ability to block and receive as he showcased in his sophomore season catching 43 passes and 7 touchdowns.
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