Deferring Your Combine Workout: Red Flag or Good Business Decision

Matt Barkley and Jarvis Jones aren’t the only high profile names making NFL scouts fussy by choosing not to workout in Indianapolis. Eddie Lacy, Travis Kelce and Keenan Allen all chose to delay their on-field workouts due to injury this week.

Reports on all three suggest – not surprisingly – that their injuries are minor.

There’s little incentive for a player who’s considered among the elite prospects at his position to work out through an injury two full months before the draft. Scouts and media members may gripe about not being able to compare a player to his peers in the same environment. But they’ll all show up at his pro day workout next month anyway.

Keenan Allen is one of many players deferring on-field workouts until their Pro Day.(photo by Monica's Dad)

Keenan Allen is one of many players deferring on-field workouts until their Pro Day.
(photo by Monica’s Dad)

Why workout at any fraction less than 100% when you can further optimize your conditioning and take advantage of your home facilities later?

There are few absolutes when discussing NFL injuries. But you can set your watch, if you still wear one, by the usual party line we hear from players, coaches and agents on injuries. With rare exception, a player will minimize the seriousness of his injury and vow to return to action sooner than any reported timetable.

So, while it is likely a smart business decision for these players to delay their on-field workouts, it’s fair to wonder whether their injuries are more significant than reported.

Adam Schefter reported that Eddie Lacy suffered a small tear in some tissue around his hamstring.  He’s hopeful that he’ll be able to perform drills by Alabama’s Pro Day on March 13, where his 40 yard dash time will see extra scrutiny. Scouts will want to know whether the extra ten pounds he’s put on over his listed weight at Alabama are injury or conditioning related.

Travis Kelce has been dealing with a lower abdominal injury for at least a month. There aren’t many abdominal conditions that restrict football players for multiple weeks. Every medical staff will want to know if Kelce’s injury is a torn abdominal muscle (or sports hernia) this week and whether he’s progressing well enough to avoid surgery in the coming weeks. Kelce’s Pro Day is also scheduled for March 13.

Keenan Allen suffered a Grade 2 PCL strain in early November but continued to have trouble with swelling while preparing for pre-draft workouts. That was concerning enough for Allen to consult with Dr. James Andrews, who reportedly confirmed the diagnosis and told Allen he wouldn’t need surgery. If that’s accurate, it makes a more severe PCL sprain or an injury to any of the critical surrounding structures unlikely. Allen isn’t expected to be ready for a full Pro Day workout until the first week of April.

It is not likely Lacy, Kelce or Allen will be limited long term by their injuries. Whether they will be ready for their Pro Day, however, remains an open question. It is possible that any of them may be forced to delay their on-field workouts further.

Skipping this weekend’s workouts may only a minor public relations issue for now, especially if medical exams are reassuring. Missing or underperforming at a Pro Day workout will be another issue entirely.

Categories: Injury Updates

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