A couple years ago, I worked with a few scouts in an attempt to develop an independent ‘pro’ scouting service that would contract with NFL teams to evaluate free agents before the signing period begins. It never got off the ground, but during my research, I found out that there’s a theory in the pro game that injuries are not a strictly ‘bad luck’ proposition. I found there’s a school of thought that bad players are injured more often.
This idea gained traction last spring when I was interviewing ex-scouts ahead of the ’15 draft. One of them said you have to be careful when signing offensive linemen in the undrafted free agent period because if you’re not careful, you bring in players (especially offensive linemen) that aren’t strong enough to play. They get pushed around, might fall into the feet of your veterans, and incur knee and ankle injuries unnecessarily.
It came up again Wednesday when my podcast-mate, agent Justin VanFulpen, talked about the regular injuries that Eagles QB Sam Bradford, a former No. 1 pick, has suffered consistently in his NFL career.
To find out if this is a growing sentiment, I reached out to several friends in scouting. I asked, “Is it fair to say that bad players get hurt more often? When a player consistently misses large parts of the season, is that an indication his skill level is lacking?”
Here’s the response I got:
- “Not necessarily. Usually, it’s injury-prone or lack of mental and physical toughness to play through pain.”
- “No. (Texans No. 1 pick Jadeveon) Clowney (was a) great college player, hurt in the pros. (Stuff) happens. Lot of bad players are real healthy. They don’t hit. Or take a lot of hits and are healthy.”
- “I would not say skill level. Sometimes (it’s) bad luck, but sometimes if it’s always always a knee or shoulder, they are just built differently and it is physics. But sometimes it shows prep work and heart, like (Bills WO) Percy Harvin.”
- “Each player is independent.”
- “Never made that connection. Beats me. Are bad soldiers the ones who get wounded? . . . I’m not good at thinking beyond the obvious.”
Looks like the ‘bad players are injured more than most’ school of thought is pretty poorly attended. That’s good news. It didn’t make much sense to me, either.