A few dozen players who were invited to the Scouting Combine in February have been asked to return to Indianapolis this week for updated medical evaluations.
With the 2019 NFL Draft less than three weeks away, teams want to get the most current information available on the status of players recovering from various injuries. Players are not required to return to Indianapolis but generally make the trip if requested to do so.
Players are evaluated at the same medical facility at the Indiana University Health as their original appointments back in February. A key difference in April’s re-check is that only a player’s specific area of concern is being evaluated, unlike the exhaustive head-to-toe evaluation performed previously.
Five players with pressing medical concerns or rehabilitations whose stock may hinge on the information learned by IU Health doctors this week:
5. OLB Chase Hansen, Utah (151st-ranked prospect by Field Level Media/14th among OLBs)
Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Herniated disk in back
Timeline for return: Hansen told reporters at Utah’s March 28 pro day that he anticipates being fully cleared by the opening of NFL training camps in July.
Medicals matter: A former safety turned first-team All-PAC-12 outside linebacker, Hansen has the resume to warrant top 100 consideration, but his stock is in flux following surgery in January to correct a herniated disk in his lower back. The 6-3, 222-pound Hansen suffered the injury this past October and played through it, receiving multiple injections as he gutted it out to lead the Utes in both tackles (114) and tackles for loss (22) while playing in every game, even accepting an invitation to the play at the Senior Bowl.
Rather than compete in the prestigious all-star game, however, Hansen underwent surgery that has kept him from working out for scouts at the Combine or the Utes’ pro day. Older than most prospects due to serving a two-year LDS mission in Brisbane, Australia, the 25-year-old Hansen is now viewed as a likely mid-to-late Day Three selection who could slip out of the draft entirely should teams be nervous about the long-term durability of his back.
4. RB Bryce Love, Stanford (161, 16)
Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn right ACL.
Timeline for return: Love is hoping to be back on the field this summer for training camp after undergoing corrective surgery Dec. 18 with the renowned Dr. James Andrews. Team doctors will handle his recovery plan and return once he’s drafted with running backs and other “skill” position talent often requiring more of a grace period than others due to their reliance on elusiveness. A redshirt rookie year is possible.
Medicals matter: After making the surprising decision to return for his senior season following a breakout junior campaign in which he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, Love suffered a heartbreaking injury in the final regular-season game of his career, tearing knee ligaments on his 22nd carry (matching his season-high) against rival California. B
Before the injury, the 5-9, 200-pounder was viewed as one of the few running backs in this class worthy of early-round consideration. Unable to work out before the draft, however, Love is now likely to be still on the board well into Day Three.
3. CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State (47/5)
Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn left pectoral muscle.
Timeline for return: With no surgery planned, Sheffield is hoping to be available for May rookie minicamps.
Medicals matter: For the second consecutive year, a projected top 50 pick out of Ohio State suffered a torn pectoral muscle while competing in the bench press at the Combine. The injury (and subsequent surgery) did not impact former Buckeyes’ standout offensive lineman Billy Price’s stock with the Cincinnati Bengals, who selected him 21st overall last spring. That provides plenty of reason for optimism for Sheffield, who suffered a partial tear on his seventh repetition in the event and was unable to further compete in Indianapolis or the Buckeyes’ March 20 pro day.
Given that Sheffield started just one season for Ohio State, scouts certainly want to get as much information as they can about him, making his individual workout scheduled for April 11 (and the interviews scheduled around it) as critical as any player on this list. While health and football character are concerns for some, no one questions his raw athleticism.
Sheffield, who originally with Alabama out of high school, is widely regarded as one of the nation’s fastest players. He broke the Ohio State school record in the 60-meter dash in February 2018 with a time of 6.663 seconds, eclipsing a 23-year-old record at a program well known for producing speedsters.
2. WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (31/3)
Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Lisfranc surgery on left foot.
Timeline for return: After undergoing surgery in January, Brown is reportedly expected to be back on the field in time for summer training camp.
Medicals matter: While fellow big-play specialists D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi) and Parris Campbell (Ohio State) have since proven their exceptional timed speed in workouts, it was Brown who was widely regarded as the preeminent vertical threat in college football the past two years, averaging a healthy 18.3 yards per catch and scoring 17 touchdowns in 25 games for the Sooners.
Despite his gaudy production, Brown struggled with recurring foot issues in 2018 and may have aggravated the injury against Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, catching five passes for a relatively pedestrian 54 yards. Brown played against Alabama in the Orange Bowl but without his trademark speed, he was ineffective and did not catch a single pass.
The cousin to longtime NFL standout Antonio Brown, “Hollywood” is viewed as an elite vertical threat who should be among the first 50 players selected, as long as teams are comfortable with his recovery and a slim frame (5-9 3/8, 166 pounds).
1. DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State (38/7)
Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn left ACL.
Timeline for return: Simmons is reportedly on track to be back on the field in October. Team doctors will handle his recovery plan and return once he’s drafted, and the typical 9-12-month schedule applies. A redshirt rookie year shouldn’t be ruled out.
Medicals matter: Simmons was a potential top-10 pick before he suffered the injury training in Boca Raton, Fla. approximately two weeks before the Combine. Though obviously unable to compete in the on-field drills at Mississippi State’s March 27 pro day due to the injury, Simmons did meet with teams – all 32 attended the workout – and he showed off his strength, performing 28 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.
He has met or plans to visit with several teams, with the Browns, Colts, Eagles, Jaguars and Seahawks among them. Simmons is expected to be drafted in the second round as long as clubs are satisfied with his recovery, as well as his explanation for his role in a fight involving two women before attending Mississippi State.
–By Rob Rang (@RobRang), Field Level Media