Less than a month from now, draft prospects will turn into draft picks, and draft picks into NFL players. Rookie minicamp is slated for the second week in May. Then onto OTAs, the mandatory minicamp, and before you know it, training camp. Ideally, you would like your new players (and especially your top 5 pick) to be healthy and ready to go from the opening gun.
The reality for the team that drafts Dion Jordan is that they will have to wait to get him into the mix. Jordan had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder on February 27. He told reporters at Oregon’s pro day that the rehab process could take 3-4 months, and that he is hoping to be ready for training camp.
He talked more about the injury with Mike Florio on Wednesday.
“It will probably be a while before I’m able to actually do a lot with my upper body,” said Jordan. “But the surgery went well, and every day I feel much better. It’s a process, and I will just take care of myself so I won’t have to go through it again.”
The former Oregon defensive end/outside linebacker estimated that he played half the 2012 season with the injury. You can definitely make the case that it impacted his final statistics. The 6-6, 240-pounder had five sacks on the year before leaving the game against Colorado on October 27 with an injured shoulder. He did not register another sack from that point on.
“It had a huge effect I felt like on my production,” he said. “It limited my playing time and it also limited my ability as far as practicing and doing individual work to improve myself.”
Jordan put off having surgery so he could perform at the Combine. He had a strong showing in Indianapolis that helped solidify his standing as one of the top prospects in this class. But will the injury prevent some teams from pulling the trigger?
“I don’t know, it really doesn’t matter to me. I feel like now that I have had my surgery I feel much better personally,” he said. “I feel like wherever I land I will be healthy and I will be ready to learn, and just go out there and help the team and be productive.”
This is a long-term investment, particularly for a team like the Eagles. Though you would like the new coach to be able to hit the ground running with all the pieces in place, you deal with it so long as you are confident the injury will not be an issue moving forward. Plus, Chip Kelly and Jordan are quite familiar with one another, which could make up for lost time on the practice field.
Jordan isn’t the only high-end prospect with a less-than-ideal health situation. Alabama corner Dee Milliner recently had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. He expects to be finished rehab sometime in mid-to-late May. Questions were raised last month about whether Utah DT Star Lotulelei has a heart condition. And Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009.
Grand scheme, having your top pick sidelined for a few months while he rehabs his shoulder is not a big deal. But you would rather do without it, especially when you’re picking as high as No. 4.
WHAT YOU MISSED
What have we learned about Kelly since he took over as head coach? Sheil examines.
The Eagles will bring in Sharrif Floyd and Eric Fisher for visits, according to sources.
Randall Cunningham, who turned 50 Wednesday, talked about his influence on the new generation of quarterbacks.
Does Andy Reid see Geno Smith as a young Donovan McNabb?
Kelly has special teams in mind with some of these offseason moves.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The list of Eagles jersey numbers has been updated. Brandon Graham switches from 54 to 55 (his old college number), Patrick Chung gets 23 — most recently worn by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — and Isaac Sopoaga takes Cullen Jenkins‘ 97.
Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson is climbing up Mel Kiper’s big board. He now sits at nine overall.
Amazing that he’s this high — a potential top-10 pick — coming from a background where was a junior college QB. But it also implies a high ceiling. Has the long arms you look for, can absorb rushers and gets a decent push in the run game but can get out and use his athleticism downfield and on the edges. Good feet given a relative lack of experience on the O-line. Plays relaxed.
We’ll have a Twitter Mailbag and plenty more draft coverage for you.