Why are the Bengals drafting injured players? How successful have they been with injuries in previous years?
With the Bengals drafting Billy Price, that makes three of the last four years the Bengals have selected a player who was injured coming into the draft. Price partially tore his pectoral muscle during the combine this year. John Ross III, last year’s first-round pick, dealt with a hamstring injury leading up to the draft and a shoulder injury that he didn’t reveal. Ross also tore his ACL while at Washington. 2015’s first-round pick, Cedric Ogbuehi, tore his ACL late in the 2014 college season, preventing him from participating in the combine. You may remember that William Jackson III, the Bengals’ 2016 first round pick, missed his entire rookie season. However, that was due to an entirely torn pectoral during training camp.
While each of these players falls into the “injured player” category, these injuries shouldn’t dissuade teams like the Bengals from drafting them. Too often teams allow players with injuries to slip in the draft out of fear that the injury will debilitate them. To me, there’s a significant difference between an “injured player” and a “player who has sustained an injury.” Specific injuries can linger for entire careers, like soft tissue or foot injuries. However, with accidental injuries like broken bones or even ligament tears (advances in medicine are wonderful), a player can fully recover with no long-term effects. When dealing with those injuries, they should not affect a player’s draft stock.
That’s why it’s not an issue that the Bengals are drafting injured players. Disregard John Ross for a second because his selection was outright bizarre. Ross falls into the category of “injured player” too, as he’s dealt with lingering hamstring issues. As for Ogbuehi and Price, though, their injuries are not long-term issues. Ogbuehi may have torn his ACL leading up to the draft process, but his play that year was still stellar enough to earn First Team All-American honors. Certainly, Ogbuehi has not panned out as a prospect, but that’s not due to injury. Ogbuehi missed time in 2016 with a shoulder issue (utterly unrelated to the ACL) and has generally not developed the essential skills to play starting tackle in the NFL. Ogbuehi was a misfire for the Bengals, but it was a lousy scout, not an injury problem.
The Bengals should expect Billy Price to have little problem with his injury, too. Price does not have the same skill flaws that Ogbuehi had coming into the draft. If anything stops Price from becoming a reliable center, it will be his athleticism, not his pectoral injury. He should be fully healthy by training camp, even. (Tweet)
The stats on players who have dealt with injuries coming into the draft are very minimal, at best. While I can’t find anything holistic, looking at last year’s class gives some indication of how one-time injuries affected performance. Fabian Moreau had a similar injury to Price, and three players (Malik Hooker, Ryan Ramscyk, and Takkarist McKinley) dealt with a torn labrum. Only Hooker dealt with significant injuries last year, and both Ramscyk and McKinley had huge impacts on their team. These kinds of injuries are not career altering. The Bengals select injured players in the draft because they recognize that there is value in drafting players whose stocks fall because of something as inconsequential as a one-time injury.
-Answered by Jack Lane