General managers often face calculated risks in the NFL Draft. Some players are “project players” who need a lot of time invested to play at the NFL level. Some have character flaws. Others may have a criminal background and are looking to change as people. Others have a scary injury history that may have general managers thinking twice about drafting these players. Two of those players are Alabama receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie.
Williams and Metchie created matchup problems for college defenses with their speed. It’s tough enough going against one of them but two of them feel like game over from the beginning. Can these receivers bounce back from devastating ACL tears? Is Williams still a first-round projection or will teams let him slide to the second round fearing that his first-round value went down after suffering the season-ending ACL tear? This happened in the national championship game against Georgia. As Dr. Brian Suterrer explained on YouTube, Williams slid on the turf and his knee popped out then back into place.
To put this simply, passing up on Williams will almost certainly be a huge mistake. While such players may come into the draft with durability concerns, there is a chance that not taking the gamble will ironically be the gamble. It is better to roll the dice on Williams than to let another team do it instead. When looking at the game film, it’s easy to understand why teams want him. He’s over six feet tall and has Tyreek Hill-like speed. Non general manager in the right mind will pass on a player like him unless a team physician a concern that there’s absolutely no way Williams is going to be available on a consistent basis.
Even if a team physician says that there is a low chance that he’ll be durable, letting Williams slide into the second round seems like the beginning of a catastrophic mistake. In fact, Williams could be ready for training camp despite early concerns that he wouldn’t be. The same goes for Metchie. An ACL tear isn’t quite the grim reaper it once was. Multiple ACL tears are a different story.
The one receiver that may be a different story is Justyn Ross out of Clemson. At one point his entire football career appeared to be over. Ross would’ve been an easy first-round pick if not for the injured left foot. He also had surgery on his neck due to a spinal condition he was born with. However, he is at best, an early third-round pick at this point. Even so, Ross may have a lot of upside. It’s best to not allow declining stats to be the determining factor in his chances of a successful career. It’s all about what he can do on the field. Ross even said, “I feel good”. He had an interview with reporters about it and he didn’t seem concerned about it. He was ready to play in the 2021 season. Ross has the height, bulky size, and the ability to be a vertical threat down the field.
To some extent, these decisions on whether to draft a player or not depend on the body of information an NFL general manager has. After all, general managers have to rely more on facts than “gut feeling”.