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2021 NFL Draft: Buffalo Bills OT Tommy Doyle injury analysis

Shoulder and foot injuries are in his past, but are there concerns?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 20 Miami OH at Army Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The second of two offensive tackles taken by the Buffalo Bills indicates that the front office is serious about building in the trenches to win in January and February. OT Tommy Doyle comes to Buffalo from Miami (OH) as a fifth-round pick looking to lock down a backup role or swing tackle with the possibility of being the future as injuries occur. Below is Doyle’s publicly known injury history.

Injury History

2016 — Redshirted his first year on campus. Suffered torn labrum in his shoulder, side not specified according to sources. This has also been confirmed by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler in his 2021 Draft Guide.

2017 — Redshirt Freshman year: appeared in five games before suffering a foot injury, side not specified, that was season ending; missed seven games.

2018 — Redshirt Sophomore year: appeared in ten games, missing two games back to back in Bowling Green and Western Michigan. The only details that exist are that it was a leg injury, besides that, no other specifics.

2019 — Redshirt Junior year: appeared in 13 of 14 games, no publicly reported injuries. The team website says that he missed the Ohio State game, but there are reports that he held his own against Chase Young, indicating he played.

2020 — Redshirt Senior year: appeared in all three games. Due to COVID-19, the schedule was significantly reduced. No publicly reported injuries.

Bills injury impact

There is very little information available as seen above. The foot injury was likely some type of fracture, but without a defined side or further details, it’s hard to speculate what he was dealing with. Going into 2018 and 2019, missing two or three games based on sources without details of the injury also makes it difficult to identify any concerns.

The shoulder labrum repair is the most detailed information we have that sheds light on his past issues. While there are no details regarding the cause of injury, knowing that it exists especially in his job as an offensive lineman is not surprising.

According to research, prior shoulder injuries including SLAP tears or shoulder instability in general decreased the chances of getting drafted and career longevity. Recurrence rates for shoulder instability/SLAP tear range anywhere from 13-to-32 percent based on literature. SLAP tears were most common in offensive linemen, though found at nearly any other position. The supporting references also suggest that the games played and career length is shortened with 4.7 +/- 3.8 years played compared to 6.7 +/- 3.4 years played matched against controls. This works out to 51 +/- 58 games played compared to 81 +/- 48 games played against matched controls when dealing with linemen and linebackers.

This injury did occur back in 2016 and he demonstrated the ability to play at a high level for several years once he got past his foot injury. This suggests that he can continue to play in the NFL and at least keep up. He is more of a project but based on his RAS score, I can see why the Bills drafted him.

I have found that research for mid-major players can be incomplete and vague, it appears to be the case here. Fortunately, some information is available with my only concern being his previous shoulder injury. Positional demands could lead to further injury in the future. Far from a guarantee, but it is something to note as he begins his NFL journey.