NFL Draft Day is here and I think it’s safe to say that most football fans are tired of the Mock Draft-mania. We’ve heard plenty of football “experts” give their opinions on why this or that player should or shouldn’t be Drafted based on their running speed, physical size and football talent.
Who’s asking the medical questions about these potential NFL players?
Forget about the specific injuries and the medical grades on these players. I can’t disclose any of that info for obvious reasons. It’s the “other medical issues” that often separate the players that come into the league for a quick drink of Gatorade and those that have long successful careers as professional football players.
Key Medical Questions Related to the NFL Draft
“How will the player hold up to a much longer & more demanding NFL schedule?”
A college season has 8 to 12 games. Meanwhile an NFL season includes 4 pre-season games, 16 regular season games along with up to a 4 game post-season. With an extensive off-season workout program, training camp and an additional Bye week practice schedule, a rookie can easily double the length of their season when compared to their college season.
Now when you add in extra special team reps, the stress of being a “new guy” in a new setting and the increased intensity of the NFL, a rookie season is tough indeed.
“What does a player’s medical history not tell you?”
With the player’s permission, we review hundreds of player medical reports, files and tests. In doing so, we gain great insight into his medical history. Those mountains of reports often give us more questions than answers about a player’s medical status.
How much did injury X limit their ability to play at a high level? Did the player practice with this injury or did he simply rest the injury during the week and play in the game on Saturday? Is a player’s injuries chronic problems all the way back in high school where most athletes don’t have complete medical records?
An inability to find the answers to medical questions such as these may hamper a team’s ability to have a clear picture of a potential employee.
“What will impact the longevity of this player career more, the volume or the intensity of his college career?”
Today’s college football player has an impressive resume’ often extending from their playing days as a young teenager. Highly competitive youth football, high schools and colleges result in many long and intense seasons. That often results in lots of hits and lots of miles on those knees, ankles and shoulders.
“How educated is this player with the sports medicine art of taking care of himself?”
A few years ago I called one of my fellow Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) colleagues with an NFL team. He had 2 very old, by NFL standards, players who were playing at a very high level. “How are they doing it?” I asked. From both a professional and a personal perspective, I was very interested in learning how these dinosaurs were competing with the young bucks in this league.
“They work hard 11 ½ months a year” he said. They knew that fitness and maintenance was their ticket and they knew how important it was to take care of their bodies TODAY.
When I see a young rookie come into the NFL with the knowledge and, more importantly, the appreciation for good nutrition, NFL athletic trainers and recovery, I see a young man who has already greatly enhanced his ability to stay healthy and to become very wealthy.
Each year NFL medical staffs get the opportunity to enhance our skills of assessing new players to help make our teams better. The art of reading “between the line” is often the trick to strengthening our rosters heading into the fall NFL season. As with most professions, there’s much more work than one would expect preparing for the big event but it’s necessary to be properly prepared.
Let the fun begin!