One of the biggest events of this year’s entire NFL Draft occurred Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis. You just wouldn’t know it, because it wasn’t televised, broadcast, or publicized. It had little to do with actual football.
About 150 prospects and 64 medical personnel — the team doctor and head trainer from all 32 teams — gathered for in-person physicals and other medical checks. Those invited were the 75 or so top prospects in the draft, and another 75 players who have medical red flags that the team doctors want to see for themselves.
This year’s NFL Combine was canceled, and with it the ability for team doctors to get a hands-on look at 330 of the top prospects. Team doctors also weren’t allowed to visit with prospects at their pro days, and teams were not allowed to invite players to their facilities for pre-draft visits. Last week’s event helped fill in some of the gaps.
“The fact that they can go to Indy and do the physicals with the team doctors and team trainers is really a positive thing,” said agent Drew Rosenhaus, who had nine of his 10 prospects invited to the medical check. “For players that have a medical issue, it’s extremely important that team doctors and trainers can do a hands-on and do their assessment. I think it’s critical to the draft process, and I’m so grateful that nine of our guys were invited to that and teams will have an opportunity to really get a feel.”
Of all the hoopla of the pre-draft process — the Senior Bowl, Combine, pro days, interviews — the medical component ranks right at the top in terms of importance. At the Combine, a player spends the first 1½ days of his four-day trip taking physicals, MRIs, heart exams, and whatever else any of the 32 teams requests.