Will Carroll is taking a look at the top draft picks in the 2013 NFL draft who have any medical questions. Carroll takes a look at the full spectrum of info, including injury history and exclusive medical insight from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a medical consultant to many pro teams and the current L.A. Dodgers team physician.
Jarvis Jones 6'2", 245, Linebacker from Georgia
Jones' injury history comes down to one incident and the diagnosis that followed.
Jones initially attended Southern Cal and on a kickoff, he was hit with his head down and experienced a spinal cord concussion. Jones was treated and showed no ill effects after, but doctors discovered possible spinal stenosis during tests. Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column and can be a disqualifying condition in collision sports.
The tests on Jones were not conclusive, but some USC doctors would not clear Jones despite dissenting opinion. Jones elected to transfer and was cleared by Georgia and other schools. He played two years at Georgia without any further spine issues.
Jones elected to pass on the performance portion of the combine, though he did go through the interviews and medical process. Several teams were reported to have "red flagged" Jones for his spinal issues, meaning there were serious concerns with his injury status.
Some teams were even reported to have taken Jones off their draft boards altogether.
Jones participated in Georgia's pro day and put up unexpectedly low numbers across the board, including a 4.92 40 time. While conditions were cold, Jones did not impress the many coaches and scouts in attendance.
Stenosis is an easy one. You're looking for something under a critical diameter as well as incidents where it has been an issue. The risk doesn't go down just because there hasn't been incidents. With most injuries, time reduces the risk of a recurrence and stenosis is just the opposite. We'd rely heavily on our own consultants before drafting a player with this condition.—Dr. Neal ElAttrache
One episode is not predictive. The condition is easy to see with imaging and specific views. I would not worry about playing as a defensive end with his head down. At some point, you have to take the function over the theory, as long as there is solid medical evidence and a comfort level between the doctor and athlete.— Dr. Neel Anand
Jones countered his negative medical status with additional testing and a letter from the spinal surgeon, Dr. Craig Brigham, that cleared him to play. (Brigham has recently become involved with a controversy involving former NFL player Samari Rolle, but teams will not take this into account regarding Jones.)
Brigham is not the only doctor to have cleared Jones and a team would not draft him without clearance from their own doctors and specialists.
Absent the stenosis, Jones would be considered a top pick, with some early mocks having him as high as the first pick overall. Matt Miller has Jones going at pick No. 17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that is known to have significant interest in the linebacker.
The Steelers have done their due diligence on Jones, checking with coaches and doctors all the way back to his high school playing days.
Jones is considered risky because of the spinal condition. One play could result in ending his career, but this is true of any player in the NFL.
On the field, Jones has shown a great football acumen and appears to be an ideal fit into the 3-4 rushbacker position for many teams. A team willing to take on that risk or one that correctly values that risk could be rewarded by a talent who should be drafted significantly higher than where most observers believe he'll ultimately be selected. The San Diego Chargers, who dealt with Marcus McNeill's similar stenosis, as well as the Steelers, are watching Jones closely, as are several other teams.
These reports were compiled from various cited sources. All draft data courtesy NFL.com. Inside Look is exclusive to B/R from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic and former team physician for the Los Angeles Rams. Dr. ElAttrache helps give insight into what the team doctors for NFL teams will be looking for in this type of player with injury concerns.
Will Carroll is the Lead Writer for Sports Medicine at Bleacher Report.