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NFL Draft Talk Volume XLVIII

As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. Who are some of the elite playmakers that could slide in the draft because of recent injury concerns? There are always supremely gifted prospects each year that possess high end or even elite talent, but they see their draft stock take some major hits because of injuries they suffered either during the pre-draft process or at the end of their collegiate careers. This year that is especially true for some of the best players in the class, here’s a list of some of the most prominent prospects with whose recent injuries bring up red flags and cause them to fall in the draft: • WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma: Before a Lisfranc foot injury forced him to miss out on performing at the Combine or in any on the field workouts on official team visits, the dynamic receiver nicknamed “Hollywood” was considered a lock to be drafted in the top 15 picks of the first round. Even though he didn’t run the 40-yard dash at any point in the pre-draft process, Brown is believed to be the fastest player in this entire class. He’s absolutely electric in the open field once he gets the ball in his hands and once he gets a step on the man guarding him with no safety over the top it’s all over because, with his blazing game speed, he’ll leave defenders in the dust and coast into the endzone for a score. While he’s the younger cousin of All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown of the Oakland Raiders, draft experts are calling him a Desean Jackson clone. Jackson, who reunited with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, led the league in yards per catch last season with 18.9 and is still considered one of the fastest players in the league. Brown put up back to back 1,000-yard seasons, averaged 17.9 yards per catch and scored 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He could still very well come off the board in the first round next week, but his injury coupled with the fact that he measured in at 5-9 and 166 pounds could force him to fall to the late first or early second round. • DE Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State: Prior to suffering a torn ACL in February, the hulking defensive lineman was considered a top 10 pick. Since the timing of the injury paired with the lengthy and vigorous rehab that follows, he will likely miss most of if not the entirety of his rookie season. He was a force for the Bulldogs as an interior pass rusher and consistent double team beater in the run game. Simmons possesses the athleticism and scheme versatility to play inside in a 3-4 as well as on the edge in a 4-3. While he will most certainly fall out of the top 10 or 15 picks, his immense potential might still be enough to persuade a team in the bottom of the first round to select him. • RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma: He has all the ability and potential to become a star at the next level, but his durability might be the biggest hurdle that could derail his quest for greatness and cause him to get drafted much lower than his talent would indicate. His 2015 and 2018 seasons were cut short by leg injuries and he missed the entire 2016 season with a neck injury. Anderson's best season came in 2017 when he ran for 1,161 yards and 13 scores and caught 17 passes for 281 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and five touchdowns. He has great balance after contact, vision to find cutback lanes, agility in the open field, burst to explode through holes, breakaway speed to take it the distance and is a natural catcher of the ball as a receiver out of the backfield. He suffered a season-ending knee injury early last season and will be a steal for the team that drafts him on day two or three if he can stay on the field. • WR Emanuel Hall, Missouri: He has been dealing with a lingering groin injury dating back to early last season and against the advice of doctors, he chose to participate in activities at the Combine back in March and even returned for the Tigers’ final games of last season after sitting out four games. In eight games he averaged over 100 yards receiving per game, over 22 yards per reception and hauled in six touchdowns on just 37 catches as a senior. He is expected to come off the board in the third or fourth round on either day two or three of the draft. • RB Bryce Love, Stanford: The former 2017 Heisman finalist entered his senior season with the highest of expectations after he racked 2118 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground as a junior. He was hampered for most of his final year and only put up 838 yards from scrimmage in 10 games before he tore his ACL in Stanford’s season finale. Top end running backs usually don’t return for their senior years and had he came out when his stock was red hot, he might have been a first-round pick. However, after an underwhelming 2018 season that ended with a late knee injury, he might last as far as the fifth round. in this year’s draft.

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