Biggest Losers In The Draft, Prospects Without Medical Examination


GAINESVILLE, Florida, USA (AP) – Florida wide receiver Josh Hammond said he was “somewhat shocked” that he did not receive an invitation to the NFL “Combine” event.

Similarly, he was surprised that he was not asked to go to the Senior Bowl.

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Hammond settled for a spot at the East-West Shrine Game. He imagined then that any of the NFL teams that failed to see him in the All-Star Game in the second category would have another chance at the end of March, during the so-called “Pro Day” in Florida.

He was also hopeful in face-to-face meetings with team representatives, which would provide him with an opportunity to show his personality and knowledge of American football to general managers, coaches, and headhunters.

But once the coronavirus pandemic ruined many of the meetings with professional teams and pre-draft visits, Hammond was left in an undesirable place, as were many other players.

He is one of hundreds of prospects who have not undergone formal medical examinations prior to the NFL draft. Many teams consider that what is detected in these reviews is as important as what is observed in a video.

“Not having this is something that sucks,” Hammond said. “There really is no way to do that in FaceTime or Zoom.”

Hammond has four years of good play with the Gators. He caught 87 passes for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. He made a good chunk of those numbers in the past two seasons, under coach Dan Mullen.

He was captain of the team in 2019 and only missed one match (in 2017), due to injury. Her older brother Frankie also spent two years in the league.

That should be enough, but Josh Hammond knows not. The teams want to go through the prospects in great detail before investing draft capital and potentially millions of dollars in them.

Five years ago, the Rams, then playing in St. Louis, recruited Bud Sasser from Missouri in the sixth round. Five weeks later he was discharged after detecting problems on the physical examination.

Sasser had a heart condition that prevented him from playing.

Despite catching 77 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, Sasser was not invited to the Combine or any all-star game. So NFL teams were unable to put him through the rigorous physical test that participants in those events do face.

And no one had detected his health problem. Sasser’s case still serves as a reminder among NFL executives.

“If a player was in the Combine and was a guy for the last few rounds of the draft, no problem,” said Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell. “The biggest problem I think we face is the medical side of these guys who weren’t in the Combine, and having to recruit a player who you’re not 100 percent sure of on the medical side.

“It is one thing to recruit a player and not having the precise time to go through the 40 yards with fences or to change trajectories. But it is another thing not to get a player to come and suddenly realize that he has a medical problem that disqualifies him after you recruited him. ”

Other notable players who did not receive invitations to Combine or professional team meetings include Oluwole Tetiku, Illinois defensive end; Kevin Dotxon, a member of the Louisiana offensive line; Breiden Fehoko, a member of the LSU defensive line; North Texas quarterback Mason Fine; Bryce Huff, defensive end of Memphis; Tyler Huntley, Utah quarterback; Joey Magnifico, tight in Memphis; Zach Shackelford, a member of the Texas offensive line, and Isaiah Wright, a Temple receiver.

Just over a dozen college programs held sessions with professional teams before the NFL banned all meetings. This effectively canceled the visits.

Among the programs that did have meetings with professional groups, Auburn, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin stand out.

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