The NFL Draft is in the rear-view window, most players are signed, and the virtual offseason workouts have commenced. Right now, there is time for reflection on the draft process, which can provide insights into the tendencies, strategies, and overall game plans of NFL general managers.
During a meeting with the media following Day 2 of the draft, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane answered a variety of questions that covered not just the draft, but other topics related to the team. You can read the entire transcript here. One question, in particular, is below in its entirety. It will also be the focus of the article.
Q: I’m curious what you during this process how you were able to do the recon on injury history, because Zach Moss has had quite a few injuries and what you kind of dug up about that and how this you know everything going on kind of altered, what you’re able to do there.
A: Yeah, really he was at the combine, so the injury stuff – he was not even a guy that needed to come back from for medical rechecks or anything like that. They got everything and you know he’s like any of them they all have certain things. This guy has a knee, a shoulder whatever that, you know, has had a surgery or maybe some maintenance here or there, but he was not a guy that I have some guys on my board that are in red. That means there are some medical concerns and maybe there’s a couple that I dropped them. I can think of one, I dropped him a round. I can think of another I dropped him a couple of rounds. Because there are to your point medical concerns but there was nothing. You know, major with Zach, that, that our medical people were felt like I needed to flag them and potentially drop his value.
Brandon Beane is incredible in giving you a ton of information and not a whole lot at the same time. It isn’t that he gives fluff answers, it’s just that on the surface, he doesn’t come out and say something. Looking deeper and with some outside context really gives insight into his decision making. That is clearly evident in his answer above.
NFL Combine Injury Assessment
All players at the Combine are assessed for any known injuries per their college, high school, and overall medical records. Sometimes, injuries are found as the result of the routine orthopedic or internal medicine exam. If there are concerns about an injury, imaging is performed and all this information is shared among the other NFL teams. X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans can all be ordered if there are concerns about an injury. So not every team doctor will get to assess every player. They have the option, but it’s simply too much work.
These medical reports are compiled and shared league-wide but are simply the opinion of that evaluating doctor. What one practitioner sees as a concern may not be what another thinks is an issue. Some guys may have enough injuries that immediately drop them on most draft boards. Some players may have talent but can’t stay healthy. Others may appear solid but that particular doctor wants another crack to perform their own injury assessment to either accept or reject the findings. Unfortunately, due to this unique time, medical re-checks were unavailable and the ability to further assess a player was also not an option during team visits.
Bills Draft Selection
Referencing the above quote, there are several reasons why Beane was comfortable with Moss.
- They had the information on him medically from the combine; it’s possible that the Bills’ team doctor could have performed the evaluation on him as well.
- Moss did suffer an AC joint sprain during his senior season, but those rarely pose a problem even if chronic.
- Moss did not have any issues with the knee his senior season, indicating that the issue appeared behind him.
- If he had the meniscus repair as I had speculated in my Cover 1 article, they would have imaging of the knee in addition to the research available with functional outcomes at the time of the NFL Combine.
Overall, Moss had some yellow flags but the potential red flag issues appeared to be non-existent. Players with more questionable injury histories have been drafted higher. Take for example Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa or New England Patriots RB Sony Michel—both with significantly greater issues, but still drafted in the first round.
As a Physical Therapist looking from the outside objectively, I am pleased to see that my thoughts aligned with both the Bills’ medical staff and GM Brandon Beane. This also supports the notion that while every player may come in with injuries, the severity of those injuries and the ability to further assess them really play a huge part in identifying their draft position on a team’s board. I believe the Bills’ brass made an excellent selection in Moss and he should pay out in dividends in the coming seasons despite the initial concerns out of college.