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2021 NFL Draft: Buffalo Bills OG Jack Anderson injury analysis

Anderson appears to have a more complex injury history than originally perceived.

Texas v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Buffalo Bills, OG Jack Anderson comes to Buffalo with potential. However, his pick signified more of a jump start on getting guys who could have been UDFA’s in other years locked up as a draft selection. Like many of the late Day 3 picks, they have uphill battles in making the roster but could find themselves on the practice squad to develop. If Anderson does show some flashes of potential, his health may limit him in his quest to make an NFL roster. Below is Anderson’s publicly known injury history.

Injury History

2017 — Freshman year: appeared in all 13 games at right guard with no publicly reported injuries. Named a Freshman All-American as the result of his strong play throughout the season.

2018 — Sophomore year: appeared in all 12 games at right guard, once again, no publicly reported injuries.

2019 — Junior year: appeared in three games at right guard before exiting with a season-ending shoulder injury, requiring surgery. Played in the season opener against Montana State, missed the UTEP game before returning against Arizona and Oklahoma before ending the year.

2020 — Redshirt junior year: appeared in all ten games at right guard, suffering no publicly reported injuries.

Bills injury impact

Anderson comes to the Bills with a shoulder injury that doesn’t have a lot of specifics, only that it ended his season and that it required surgery in 2019. However, it’s possible that he may have more than one shoulder injury than what is reported. Looking at social media helps identify what he could have possibly been dealing with. Game film and pictures later in 2019 show him wearing a shoulder harness on his right shoulder.

However, the game film in 2020 and pictures show a shoulder harness on the left side, leading to some questions about which side he required surgery on. In fact, the lower picture shows harnesses on both sides at different times.

The bracing on the right shoulder first showed up during spring practices in 2018 seen below. Prior to this, the game film from the Birmingham Bowl showed no bracing at all.

He continued to have bracing on the right shoulder during spring practices and played the entire season in 2018 with a harness on the right side according to game film. This at least suggests that he either injured the shoulder during spring practices or sometime late in the 2017 season.

It’s important to note that he had surgery in the offseason for an undisclosed injury in January of 2019, possibly to repair the right shoulder injury. The tweet states that he would be ready to go by June, which suggests that this was a labral repair based on the six-month timeline.

He continued to have bracing on the right side through 2019 before ending his season against Oklahoma, though it’s important to note that he played the entire game. He missed the second game against UTEP, played against Arizona, and then had a bye week following that game. Knowing he had surgery prior to the season and he still had bracing on the right side either suggests that he was wearing bracing to the area as extra protection or that he injured his left shoulder in the Oklahoma game.

If he was having any type of shoulder instability such as a torn labrum on the left side, he likely was able to rest and rehab with the time in between before deciding to shut it down. It’s interesting to note that he did not have bracing to the area if he did indeed injure the left shoulder at that time. He also made it a point to declare that he would return for his senior year, suggesting that he may have gotten the surgery thinking he may declare for the NFL draft following that season.

In 2020, he showed up with a harness on the left shoulder as seen above, indicating that he suffered another shoulder injury. This was observed in-game film as early as Week 2 against Houston Baptist and late as Week 11 against Baylor. There weren’t any reported injuries or missed time, but Anderson showed that he was able to play through injury before. This once again may have been a protective measure especially coming off surgery and with the right shoulder healthy enough, he didn’t require bracing to that side. Further digging into this, he didn’t have any bracing during the Senior Bowl as seen below.

Matthew Hinton

So Anderson looks to have had two shoulder injuries, requiring two surgeries, possibly one to each shoulder. Based on the timelines and bracing, it’s very likely that they were torn labrums, which are common in offensive linemen. It’s possible the 2019 injury could have been a pectoral tear, but those are more acute, the game film doesn’t suggest that he injured it late in the game or that he required medical attention. Fellow draft class selection Tommy Doyle also has a prior shoulder injury and detailed in his article was how years and games played shortened their careers. The same could be said for Anderson based on the injury history. As a seventh-round pick with two shoulder injuries on an incredibly deep and talented team, Anderson will have a very tough time making the roster.

It either appears that Anderson has had both of his shoulders repaired and that he is fully healthy coming into training camp this fall as the Senior Bowl picture suggests. Or, he is coming in with a left shoulder injury he will attempt to play through. If he still has the left shoulder injury, I will not be shocked if he is shut down and placed on IR due to an injury to stash him like the Bills have done with Isaiah Hodgins last year. This will be something to watch this summer and fall. Expect general manager Brandon Beane to find a way to stash players especially with the talent at the top of the roster.