Prospects With Medical Red Flags To Watch At 2020 NFL Combine

Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

We are just one week away from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine kicking off – arguably the biggest turning point of each draft cycle. Teams will finally receive the official measurements, medical information, and athletic testing numbers on this year’s prospect pool that have been speculated for months.

With that being said, the most important part of this event, despite the hype you see with the athletic testing every year, is the news that comes out of the medical facilities on these players in Indianapolis. Several big-name prospects in this year’s class have significant injury red flags to monitor, and no matter how well they test athletically, their draft stock could depend on the report they receive from doctors next week. So here are the players with those concerns that you need to keep a note of going into the combine.

Day 1 (Thursday, Feb. 27): QB/WR/TE

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

All eyes are going to be on Tua Tagovailoa’s hip at next week’s combine. No matter what happens in the athletic testing drills in Indianapolis, the biggest potential ripple effect from this year’s event will be Tagovailoa’s medical report. It seems like every 2020 NFL mock draft for the last two years has had his name somewhere in the top five picks, but if there are long-term concerns discovered in Indianapolis with his hip, his stock could slip significantly – possibly even out of the first round. This undoubtedly going to be the biggest storyline.

Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

After missing the 2020 Senior Bowl due to a knee scope he underwent at the end of his senior season, South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards will now miss this year’s combine as well – but for something entirely different. He posted on his Twitter account Friday that he broke his foot training for the event, which certainly means surgery and a potential spot on the PUP list for the team that drafts him to start the season. The timing of this injury means we may not have more information until the combine medical re-checks next month, but regardless, this is another red flag on Edwards’ injury history that will need to be significantly monitored by NFL teams.

Day 2 (Friday, Feb. 28): OL/RB/ST

Zack Moss, RB, Utah

Towards the end of the 2018 season, Utah running back Zack Moss tore his ACL and underwent surgery. He then bounced back for a stellar senior campaign, but NFL teams are going to be more interested in his knee than how he tests next week in Indianapolis. Moss reportedly blew out his knee while climbing into bed, and according to his coach, the injury was the result of a pre-existing condition. This is undoubtedly something that teams will have to do significant homework before selecting him in April.

Trey Adams, OT, Washington

With multiple season-ending surgeries on his resume – knee and back – Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams’ medical history will be another big storyline next week. He is an early-round talent on tape, but significant injuries throughout his career for the Huskies put his draft stock in severe jeopardy. If either his knee or back fail checks in Indianapolis, he will be off several boards in April.

Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

After entering 2019 as a late first-round draft pick in most mock drafts, TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang’s senior season was cut short because of hip surgery. The torn labrum has many NFL teams on red alert for his medical report. Simply put: Niang’s draft stock almost entirely depends on whether or not his hip injury is a long-term issue.

Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State

With multiple season-ending injuries to his foot and Achilles tendon, Fresno State guard Netane Muti will have many questions to answer in Indianapolis next week when it comes to his medical profile. He was injured for most of his career with the Bulldogs, and you can be sure the NFL will take his foot and Achilles tendon history seriously. If those boxes aren’t checked off next week, he could also find his name off multiple draft boards.

Day 3 (Saturday, Feb. 29): DL/LB

Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama

After putting up a great season for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2019 as a pass rusher, Terrell Lewis has seemed to make many fans forget that he had season-ending surgeries the last two years to his elbow and knee. Lewis could test through the roof in Indianapolis next week in drills like the vertical jump, 40-yard dash and 3cone, but if his medical report comes back with concerns, none of it will matter to some NFL teams.

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

We all know K’Lavon Chaisson for his explosiveness and production off the edge as LSU’s top pass rusher in 2019, but let’s not forget about the myriad of injuries he has suffered throughout his career. In addition to a nagging ankle injury that caused him to miss time this year, he missed all of the 2018 seasons to a torn ACL in the opener against Miami. Chaisson is likely to test extremely well in the athletic portion of the event, but the biggest impact on his draft stock could come from the medical facility.  

Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina

Javon Kinlaw has elite tape at the defensive tackle position, but his injury history will definitely have a lot of eyes on what comes out of his medical reports in Indianapolis next week. Not only did he undergo hip labrum surgery after the 2018 season, but he was forced to pull out of last month’s Senior Bowl due to knee tendinitis — something that many believe could be a bigger issue than is currently being reported. Kinlaw could very well be a top 10 pick in this draft if his injuries check out long term, but this will be something to monitor for sure.

Day 4 (Sunday, Mar. 1): DB

Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

While Utah junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson only missed one game throughout his career for the Utes, he’s had two offseason surgeries to the same shoulder that will need to be looked into extensively by NFL teams. It is something that ailed him in high school, as well as his freshman season at Utah. He’s followed up those surgeries with two incredible seasons and will test incredibly well in the athletic portion of the event next week in Indianapolis. However, NFL teams will be more interested in his shoulder than anything else.

Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

Bryce Hall won’t be participating in next week’s combine because of an ongoing recovery to the gruesome left ankle injury he suffered in 2019 against Miami. Any time a prospect undergoes surgery on their foot, ankle, knee – especially at the cornerback position – it’s a big deal because we don’t know if they’ll return with some sort of agility, explosiveness, or change of direction. We should know a lot more about Hall’s outlook going forward after next week, which will significantly determine his draft stock.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota

Rarely do you see players granted two medical redshirt waivers during their career, but that’s exactly what happened to Minnesota’s star safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Whenever you see that on a prospect’s resume, sirens are going off on full blast. After a stellar freshman campaign in 2016, Winfield Jr. suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in 2017. The following year in 2018, he then suffered a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury. There are reports that Winfield Jr. is going to test as well as any safety at the combine athletically, but none of that will matter if his medical reports come back with serious questions — and if his vast history of injuries is any indicator, I’d keep a close eye on this situation.