Could medical concerns about top prospects shake up first round of draft?
The NFL Draft is no stranger to smokescreens and leaks of purported information sanctioned by one team to confuse a set of clubs.
Most of the time, this information is unearthed to reduce the value of a player a team wants to draft. If their stock falls, the greater the odds said team can draft that player. Sometimes it works. Other times it’s not available.
the Washington Commanders aren’t in a position to establish leverage over other teams, but they should still be wary of pre-draft facades.
In living up to its reputation, this year’s showcase has produced a pretty remarkable curveball with draft night just two days away.
Per Charlie Campbell of Walter Football, teams have removed Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal from their draft boards due to a medical concern. Out of respect to Neal’s privacy, Campbell won’t reveal the nature of the issue.
Could reported medical issues about two top prospects alter the Commanders’ draft plans?
Here’s what Campbell said about Neal’s “flunked” medical.
WalterFootball.com has learned from team sources that some teams have medically flunked Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. The exact nature and concern of the medical issue was revealed to Walter Football.
But, out of respect for Neal’s privacy and to maintain the teams’ discretion, we won’t disclose the details. These medical exams are subjective, however. So while Neal was flunked by some, sources from other teams shared their organizations had given him a passing grade.
A potential No. 1 overall pick who’s widely viewed as a franchise tackle, it’d be surprising if Neal dropped out of the top 10 entirely. However, medical issues aren’t likely to be taken, so we suppose anything is on the table.
Should Neal slip, that could potentially alter Washington’s first-round plans depending on which prospect gets drafted over the Alabama star. If it’s Kyle Hamilton or Drake London, that could throw a wrench into the team’s strategy.
If you can believe it, another potential first-round tackle, Central Michigan product Bernard Rainmann, was “flunked medically” by some teams, per Campbell. Like Neal, these teams have removed Rainmann from draft consideration.
While Rainmann has never been a lock to go in Round 1, most mocks have him going early in the second. Dane Brugler of The Athletic mocked him to Seattle at No. 41 overall, while ESPN’s Matt Miller mocked him to Indy at pick No. 42
Why is that significant? The Commanders own pick No. 47, so Rainmann could potentially fall to them if this medical concern is legitimate. While fans would rather not see Washington draft a tackle that early, ESPN’s John Keim tweeted this after Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew addressed the media on Monday.
Commanders only hosted five offensive linemen during their top-30 prospect visits, and Rainmann wasn’t one of them. Even if he’s not on their radar, him sliding (like Neal) could shake up the top half of the second round.
Maybe nothing happens regarding Neal and Rainman’s draft stock, but the Commanders need to consider any and all scenarios before Thursday, and this report, if accurate, is a pretty big deal considering Neal and Rainmann play the third-most valuable position in the sport behind quarterback and edge rusher.