When on the clock, you want to make sure to have covered all of your bases regarding each prospect. You have likely dug deep into film breakdowns, analytical models, collegiate production, landing spots, vacated targets, and much more. Often, injuries are left out of the equation, yet it can be that final piece of the puzzle to help you avoid drafting an injury-riddled question mark over a healthy stud prospect. There are several key names from this running back class that I want to touch on.
Note: If your favorite prospect (or another prospect you’re targeting in drafts) is not on this list, he does not carry any significant injury history to be discussed and can be drafted with confidence.
Kendre Miller, TCU
- MCL Sprain (12/31/22), reportedly surgery, cleared from concern
Miller is an intriguing prospect who continues to find himself anywhere between analyst’s RB4-RB7, likely to be had in the late first or early-mid second round of 1QB drafts. Miller notably did not test at the NFL combine or his pro day due to a recent MCL injury that required surgery. The details have been very non-specific, but I’m not entirely sure that his MCL required a full-blown repair based on his recent workout videos and reading between the lines with some reports. His knee surgery may have been on the more mild side, requiring a debridement or clean-up operation. His draft capital will likely tell us more, as NFL teams should have his medical screening information and surgical information. By all accounts, it sounds like he will be ready for training camp and be healthy going into his first NFL season. With the bit of information we do have, I don’t think we need to fade Miller due to injury reasons, especially considering it does not sound like NFL teams are overly concerned. Monitor his draft capital because if he is drafted in his expected range of rounds two to four, we know his medicals were cleared.
Tyjae Spears, Tulane
- ACL Tear (2015)
- ACL Tear (9/26/20), meniscus tear
Tyjae Spears is another intriguing prospect going into the NFL draft, recently getting top-5 RB hype from many ever since the Senior Bowl. The downside here is that Spears has quite the injury history, which includes a 2015 ACL tear and a 2020 ACL tear, which also includes a meniscus tear and repair. It’s always hard to predict these kinds of future outlooks because you look at Spears’ most recent production, and it indeed appeared that he was fully healthy and returned to high-level form. The main questions I would have that have not been answered are: 1) were the ACL tears in the same knee? 2) how much degeneration has occurred and how much meniscus was removed, aka what is the actual quality of his knee for longevity’s sake? Recently, the highly esteemed Daniel Jeremiah speculated that a top running back in this draft class who has recently received more hype might wind up going later than most people think due to injury concerns. Now, this could be Kendre Miller or Sean Tucker, but based on the recent hype, I believe he may be talking about Tyjae Spears. How far he falls in the draft may give us a little indication of the NFL team’s concern about the quality of his knee(s); however, NFL teams have certainly gotten this wrong before. Spears likely falls within that nice tier in the 2nd or 3rd round of your rookie drafts where you might as well take a gamble on him, depending on draft capital and landing spot. While there should be some concern, it’s hard not to look at his last season’s production and wonder if he can provide solid production for 2-3 years in the NFL and pay off at cost.
Sean Tucker, Syracuse
- Heart Condition (found during NFL combine screening)
Tucker is another running back who very well could fall due to health concerns and quite possibly could be the back who Daniel Jeremiah was discussing regarding falling due to medical reasons. Tucker was medically held from participating in the NFL Combine due to this heart condition found during screening. We still are not sure what his exact condition is, as they have not released details, but we will find out if it is truly concerning if NFL teams fade him in the draft. We know he produced over the last few seasons and tested well (according to himself) in his posted testing video, and if he had this heart condition all along, then we know he can perform well despite of it. We also know that he was recently medically cleared to perform at his pro day just before the NFL draft, so maybe this condition is not significantly concerning. Time will tell, but keep an eye on his status and draft capital.
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: The Case for Running Backs in Year One Post-ACL Reconstruction - June 2, 2023
- Post-NFL Draft Rookie Injury Breakdowns - May 5, 2023
- Dynasty Rookie Injury Concerns: Running Back - April 26, 2023