As teams get ready for the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night, they’ll have to figure out what to do about Rashan Gary’s medical issues.
Gary, the talented defensive lineman from Michigan, is projected by practically every draft expert to be a first-round pick. Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm has Gary as his 17th ranked prospect in this year’s draft.
But there’s a complication. Gary’s medical issues have been reported about before, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Tuesday that Gary has a labrum tear in his shoulder. Most teams believe he can play this season but could need surgery after the season, according to Rapoport.
That makes Gary’s draft stock tougher to figure out.
Rashan Gary’s shoulder injury cost him time last season
Gary’s shoulder issue isn’t new. Gary missed time last season with a shoulder injury. His mother had to shoot down speculation during the season that he was sitting out to protect his draft stock, explaining that he was resting the shoulder to avoid surgery.
Apparently the injury didn’t completely heal. Rapoport’s report said that if Gary plays this season it might be with a harness on his shoulder.
While it could all turn out fine — and the week of the the draft, keep in mind that all news should be taken with a bit of skepticism as teams play games through the media to create smokescreens — it wouldn’t be ideal to use a first-round pick on a player you’re hoping can make it through the season.
Teams will have to assess risk with Gary’s health
If we believe there truly are medical concerns about Gary, who is his own agent at a time when most prospects have a veteran agent that would clarify any hyperbole or inaccuracy in a pre-draft report, it makes the decision on drafting him more difficult.
Teams have to weigh everything in the draft. There will be a point in the draft in which Gary is the top-ranked player on a team’s board, but that team will have to weigh whether it’s worth the risk that Gary’s shoulder holds up and then what happens after his rookie season with it.
This is a reason the draft is difficult. There are many variables to consider, and injury history is a big one. How high Gary goes in this week’s draft will depend on how teams view the shoulder injury that has lingered since last season.
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