Trevon Diggs

NFL Draft 2020: These prospects could tumble based on medical reports

NFL Draft 2020: These prospects could tumble based on medical reports

One of the benefits -- perhaps, the only benefit -- of this unique NFL draft process is there have been no reports of injuries sustained during workouts involving any of the top prospects.

“This is a light year for injuries,” one high-ranking AFC executive told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Usually, one or two guys get hurt in workouts. This year, there were no workouts.”

Draft boards around the league are relatively clean of players whose draft stocks have dropped dramatically due to physical issues.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia radio 97.5 The Fanatic’s Natalie Egenolf and NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn reported a few teams were concerned with Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy's knee.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter later made reference to Jeudy’s “lingering knee issue.” Jeudy underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus in his left knee during the spring of 2018.

The executive said his team has not red-flagged Jeudy with any health issue. After all, Jeudy played two full seasons after the procedure on his knee and registered nearly 2,500 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Here are some prospects the executive believes will be drafted lower than their talents would suggest due to medical concerns:

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

This long-time evaluator does not believe any team will select Tua Tagovailoa within the first 10 picks of the draft, in part, because of his hip and “overall durability.” Tagovailoa sustained a dislocated right hip in mid-November.

The scout has major questions about Tagovailoa as a prospect, period.

“He had four first-round receivers -- and when have you ever said that? -- and an NFL offensive line,” he said. “He’s a really good college distributor.

“I’ll make a wild prediction for you: He slides down toward (Bill) Belichick, and Belichick takes him.”

The New England Patriots have the No. 23 overall pick in the draft.

WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado

Laviska Shenault plays extremely hard -- along the lines of Deebo Samuel. But that has led to some injuries that forced him to miss a lot of practice time in college. Teams are concerned about a list of soft-tissue injuries.

He missed three games in 2018 with turf toe, which required surgery. He had offseason shoulder surgery a year ago that forced him out of spring practice. He missed practice time and a game with a core muscle injury, which required surgery in March.

“In a weak draft, he’s a first-round pick,” the scout said. “But, now, he’s going to fall into the second somewhere.”

WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina

Bryan Edwards (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) would have been a third-round pick. But after sustaining a broken foot (a Jones fracture) before the combine, the scout now envisions Edwards being available in the fourth or fifth round. He also missed the final two games of his college career with a knee injury.

He still finished his final season with 71 receptions for 816 yards and six touchdowns.

TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert Okwuegbunam (6-5, 258) dealt with numerous injury issues over his final two college seasons with a fractured shoulder blade, sprained knee and sprained shoulder. The scout believes with a clean bill of health, Okwuegbunam would have been a second-round pick.

Now, he’ll slide to the third or fourth.

Edge Terrell Lewis, Alabama

Terrell Lewis missed most of 2017 with an elbow injury. Then, he tore his right ACL in July 2018 and missed that season. He came back last season, but he was nowhere near as explosive and productive as K’Lavon Chaisson of LSU, who also returned from a torn ACL.

Pre-injuries, Lewis was a lock first-round draft pick, the scout said, and he’ll still go in the second round despite the injury concerns.

Edge Darrell Taylor, Tennessee

Darrell Taylor registered 16.5 sacks in the past two seasons and was a team captain. He played last season with a stress fracture in his foot. He would have been a first-round pick, the scout said.

But because of his foot, he will be selected on Day 2.

Edge Julian Okwara, Notre Dame

If Julian Okwara had a good offseason and tested well, he would have placed himself in the picture to be a first-round draft pick. But he missed the second half of his final college season with a broken leg, which required surgery. Because teams have not been able to keep tabs on him, as they would have in past years, he will still be available well into Day 2.

CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

Any team that selects Trevon Diggs will be taking a chance because he opted to not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had foot issues during his college career, including a broken foot in October 2018 that required season-ending surgery.

“He would’ve been a first-round pick,” the scout said. “But with no 40, that probably pushes him into the second round. He can’t run. People are going to make a mistake if they draft him early."

Diggs could be an option for the 49ers or Raiders.

CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah

Jaylon Johnson has a history of shoulder injuries that dates back to high school. He is a first-round talent who will be available in the second round, though the scout views Johnson’s shoulder issues as “nothing significant."

[RELATEDCould 49ers surprise many, take Jefferson with No. 13 pick?]

FS Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota

Antonine Winfield (5-9, 203) was healthy as a redshirt sophomore and looked like a first-round draft pick. But he was limited to just four games apiece in 2017 and ’18 due to foot and hamstring injuries. At his size, there is concern how durable he can be at the NFL level.

“He’s healthy now, and he’s a really good player,” the scout said. “But that history is something to consider.”

FS Julian Blackmon, Utah

Julian Blackmon was tracking as a second-round draft pick. But after sustaining a torn ACL in the Pac-12 Championship Game, he might not be available for his rookie season. He could tumble to the fourth or fifth round.

NFL draft 2020 profile: Why Trevon Diggs would fit in 49ers' defense

NFL draft 2020 profile: Why Trevon Diggs would fit in 49ers' defense

Editor's note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects who might fit their needs and some hidden gems. In this installment, we profile Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs. 

Yes, Trevon Diggs is the younger brother of new Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs. 

Like Stefon, Trevon started his football career as a wide receiver. The younger Diggs played both offense and defense as a freshman, but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban influenced moved Diggs to the secondary full-time heading into his sophomore season.

Because of his background as a receiver, Diggs is known for his excellent ball skills. He is athletic and fluid, especially for a player of his size. He spent his time at Alabama practicing against wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy, two of the 2020 draft's top prospects, which prepared him for NFL-caliber wideouts.

Diggs, who some have compared to First Team All-Pro cornerback (and current free agent) Aqib Talib, was exceptional in zone coverage. That's what 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh utilizes, and Diggs' ball-tracking is reminiscent of Richard Sherman, another receiver-turned-corner.

Listen and subscribe to the 49ers Insider Podcast:

There are few knocks on Diggs. He must get better at tackling in open space, and he needs to be more consistent in deep coverage. The 49ers would need to work with him in those areas, but the good news is Diggs has a high ceiling and plenty of room to grow.

The 49ers might not prioritize cornerback enough to draft one in the first round, but Diggs would provide value if he slips. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had the Crimson Tide prospect going in the first round in earlier mock drafts, but Kiper Jr. most recently slated Diggs as a late second-round pick.

Diggs could learn from Sherman, the expert at his position, until the veteran decides it’s time to transition to safety. 

[RELATED: Clemson CB Terrell an intriguing 49ers option in NFL draft]

NFL draft profile: Trevon Diggs 

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
College: Alabama 

Career stats
43 solo tackles, 17 passes defensed, four interceptions and four forced fumbles over four seasons.

Combine measurables:
Diggs performed in on-field workouts but didn’t participate in testing.

What experts are saying:
Todd McShay, ESPN: “Diggs is ultraversatile and has really good closing burst. And since he grew up playing wide receiver like his brother Stefon, Diggs has excellent ball skills as well." 
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: "Diggs has elite size, athleticism and ball skills. He uses an effective one-hand jam in press before opening up and staying on the hip. He's fluid for such a big cornerback."
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: “Diggs is a guy who had some games where he was a little inconsistent in terms of his coverage ability. He likes to be physical. You think about what he can be at the pro level when he’s coached and continues to improve."
Lance Zierlein, NFL Media: "Talented prospect with rare combination of size, strength and ball skills. The foot agility and short-area burst are good for his size and helped keep completion totals low. He's inconsistent staying in phase with downfield routes and long speed is his kryptonite, causing grabbing and holding when panic sets in."
Greg Cosell, NFL Films: "Overall Diggs is one of the best corner prospects in the 2020 draft class (Could make the argument that he's number 2 behind Jeffrey Okudah). And his combination of length, athleticism, fluidity, competitiveness is high level."

Draft projection: First round

NFL Draft 2020: Why Raiders could pick from college football's best

NFL Draft 2020: Why Raiders could pick from college football's best

The Raiders coaching staff ran last year’s third and final rookie minicamp practice in Clemson gear. It was homage to their 2019 draft class, which contained three Tigers alums.

General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden took edge rusher Clelin Ferrell in the first round, cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second and receiver Hunter Renfrow in the fifth.

Those weren’t the only Raiders selections from a championship program, either. First-round running back Josh Jacobs came from Alabama and fourth-round tight end Foster Moreau played at LSU. Even first-round safety Johnathan Abram has SEC pedigree, playing for both Georgia and Mississippi State.

All told, six of the Raiders' nine picks last year came from Clemson, Alabama or the rest of the SEC.

Coincidence? Absolutely not.

The Raiders wanted character guys from winning programs, players used to success and the methods that earn it. Both are key traits in turning a franchise around. That’s why they ended up with so much talent from elite programs, Clemson and Alabama especially.

“Championship mindset is what we are after here,” Gruden said last May. “We are interested in guys that have won certainly. We are also more interested in winners. I got a real good feeling about all these players (from the 2019 draft class). They have a winning culture that they have grown up with. They have a competitive spirit that I admire, and to come from Clemson, or come from Alabama, or come from a championship program, at least they know what it’s like to be on top and how hard it is to get there.”

Listen and subscribe to the Raiders Talk Podcast:

The Clemson connection obviously stood out with the sheer volume, which also prompted the coaches to don purple and orange in honor of it.

“It will be a new tradition that we do every year,” Gruden said at the time. “I’ve got this to say about Clemson; you’ve got to watch all their tape because they are the best team in college football and they got a lot of good players at every position, and some of the underclassmen will keep us wearing that orange color next year I hope because they are loaded.”

[RELATED: NFL Draft 2020: Mike Mayock explains how Raiders view deep receiver class]

The 2019 BCS National Championship Game made an impression on the Raiders brass, and Mayock came away from that Levi’s Stadium contest impressed with a lot more players than just Ferrell, Jacobs, Mullen and Renfrow.

Several players who wowed in that game (and several games since) are available in this draft class, including Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy, Clemson receiver Tee Higgins and Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell.

It’s quite possible the Raiders will go after players from top programs again this NFL draft, looking for more of what they got last year.