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NFL Draft: Buffalo Bills RB Zack Moss (Utah) injury analysis

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Powerful runner, numerous injuries.

Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v Utah Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There was much chatter about the Buffalo Bills selecting a running back in this year’s draft and they did not disappoint. The latest member of the backfield is Utah RB Zack Moss. The powerful back from the Pac-12 rewrote the record books during his time there but also suffered a ton of injuries as a back who absorbed contact with every carry he took.

Despite all this, he still demonstrates the abilities needed to play at the next level and could have a productive career. As part of my work with cover1.net, I had done a detailed injury breakdown that can be found here for further reading. However, if you want the cliff notes, check out the info below.

Below is Moss’s injury history:

(Excerpts from cover1.net)

2016 season

Moss missed the 2016 season opener against Southern Utah due to injury, but there is little information outside of what Utah reported. The closest thing to an injury was that this article acknowledges that he missed the first game, reporting that he wasn’t totally in shape. Whether that means he was returning from injury or just needed more time to acclimate to the college game is anyone’s guess. He was able to produce 58 yards rushing on 12 carries in his first collegiate game during week two, signifying that the injury may have been minor.

Midway through the season, he suffered a toe injury that caused him to miss two games. Like the first injury, there is little info, including which foot, but most toe injuries present as turf toes due to the requirements of the position. There are other possibilities, such as fractures of the other toes, but without specifics, it’s hard to go into detail.

2017 season

Moss had a breakout year in 2017, grabbing the starting position from RB Armand Shyne, who suffered a left arm fracture and had to take a redshirt year. Moss capitalized on the opportunity and was able to explode with nearly 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, showing that he had arrived at the next level. He also did not have any instance of injury from what could be found, although this may not truly be the case.

2018 season

Moss once again started strong out of the gate, racking up more than 1,000 yards through nine games before ending his season with a right knee injury. The actual injury was a meniscus tear, which isn’t a mystery. It’s how he injured it that was interesting.

Reports initially surfaced that he injured the knee in practice and that it was serious enough to miss the rest of the season. However, a few days later, it was revealed that he tore the meniscus while getting into bed. This is an activity that every single person does every day. No, a person’s body is not that fragile, but activities such as this typically don’t cause injuries, much less end football seasons.

2019 season

Reviewing 2019 injuries, there were reports that Moss suffered a hand injury in the preseason and that he would be out three to four weeks. Outside of this article and a few others that reiterated the same information, there isn’t anything to support that there was an issue. If there was, then it healed in time for the first game of the season.

In his final injury of the season, Moss suffered a left AC joint sprain against USC that forced him to miss the next game against Washington State. That is typically the timeline for such an injury, but AC joint sprains really aren’t concerning from a football standpoint. They can be painful but doesn’t affect function in the long-term plans.


Bills Injury Impact:

Moss has had his share of injuries during his time at Utah but this didn’t stop him from being incredibly productive. I do at times question how healthy he will stay at the next level, but he has shown to carry a heavy workload. Sharing the duties with RB Devin Singletary and even RB T.J. Yeldon allows Moss to preserve his body and reduce his injury risk. I do see at times where Moss can be the bellcow back if one of the other backs go down, but he can share carries without feeling like he isn’t contributing.

For the draft slot that Moss was picked at, this is a great value. While the running back position will not go away, the draft value at the position has declined, which leads to the excellent talent found at Day 2 and Day 3 as opposed to investing prime draft capital on Day 1. There are concerns about his meniscal injury, but as detailed in the Cover 1 article it indicates that 96% of players with meniscal repairs come back to play. Furthermore, 80% of players who have the meniscal repair have no osteoarthritic changes over an eight-year period.

I question how healthy he can stay for a whole season but he has the facilities, reduced workload, and ability to be slowly worked in to maximize his value. The Bills are far from done this draft but they continue to fill out their roster to find upgrades at every position they can for 2020.