NFL Draft Journal: No combine means extra time researching injury histories of prospects – The Denver Post

The last piece of this year’s NFL draft puzzle is the medical component … and it’s a huge component.

The lack of a traditional combine in late February prevented the Broncos and the other 31 teams from having their trainers and doctors work up full reports on more than 300 players. Players can move up or down a round based on their medicals or be removed from a team’s draft board entirely.

Earlier this month, the NFL hosted nearly 150 prospects to Indianapolis for medical checks based on their injury histories.

Broncos general manager George Paton said recently the late medical information hasn’t impacted his pre-draft meetings.

“We’ve still set the board and once we have our medical meeting (this week), we’ll adjust so it really hasn’t been a challenge,” Paton said. “We’ve gotten a lot of the medicals back because our trainers have been working night and day on this and I give credit to Greek (director of sports medicine Steve Antonopulos) and (head athletic trainer) Vince (Garcia).”

Speaking to Buffalo reporters Tuesday, general manager Brandon Beane said the medical information is “nowhere near where it usually is.”

“Our doctors usually have a really good feeling on everybody who’s (at the combine),” Beane said. “The holes we’re trying to close at this point are just trying to call the schools to get data. … You don’t want to take a guy high and all of a sudden, you bring him in and you go, ‘Man, I don’t know how well this guy is going to stay on the field for us.’”

Some of the players at the Broncos’ positions of need with extensive medical charts:

  • Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley: A projected top-10 pick when the draft process began, he may fall into the 20s. He tore his ACL in 2017, missed the final two games of ’19 (back surgery) and didn’t have a Pro Day because of another back operation.
  • Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little: He missed the bowl game in 2018 (right shoulder), was limited to one game in ‘19 (left knee) and opted out last year. Each of Little’s 19 starts came at left tackle.
  • Syracuse safety Andre Cisco. He had 12 interceptions in his first 22 games, but missed the end of ’19 with a lower-leg injury and was limited to two games last year when he tore his ACL after colliding with a teammate in pre-game warm-ups.

Quick hitters. Seven things entering the final seven-day countdown to the draft:

1. During a video conference Wednesday, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah was asked how Broncos quarterback Drew Lock stacks up against Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones. “I would have Lance and Fields ahead of where Drew Lock was coming in (two years ago),” Jeremiah said. “I would have Drew Lock over Mac Jones. … I know Drew has had some ups and downs, but you see the flashes of what he can do. He’s got a ton of ability.”

2. Does it seem like Atlanta’s asking price at No. 4 is going to be so high, the Falcons may be forced to stay put? The kind of deal San Francisco put together to move from No. 12 to No. 3 (three first-round picks) doesn’t appear to be in the offing. The Falcons shouldn’t overthink it — take Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

3. Cincinnati is an interesting team to watch at No. 5. The Bengals can go LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase or Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell. If they think Chase is the Next Sensational Pass-Catcher, they can take him and then try to trade up from No. 38 to take a left tackle.

4. Given the opportunity to endorse quarterback Jalen Hurts as the no-doubt starter, Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni dodged the question Wednesday by saying, “We’re going to have competition at every position.” If that’s the case, why did the Eagles trade down from No. 6, which would have been prime quarterback position?

5. Per tradition, Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta started his pre-draft news conference by revealing the number of players on the Ravens’ draft board. “We have approximately 200 players ranked as (draft-worthy) prospects, which is a very strong, healthy number.”

6. We don’t get why Carolina would consider taking a quarterback at No. 8 if it stays put. Sam Darnold has two years left on his contract (the Panthers have picked up his fifth-year option) and he may flourish with play-caller Joe Brady. The Panthers should take cornerback Patrick Surtain.

7. The draft analysts have been critical about the class of defensive linemen — Alabama’s Christian Barmore may be the only one selected in the first round. That’s good news for the Broncos, who could consider one in rounds 2-3, especially a prospect who can provide a third-down interior pass rush.

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