Myles Jack, the top-rated linebacker prospect in the NFL Draft, fell out of the first round on Thursday night after admitting on the morning of the draft that he could need microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Jack played linebacker and running back at UCLA, but after tearing his meniscus in practice early into his junior season decided to forfeit his NCAA eligibility to focus solely on recovering in time for the draft. It was a gamble, and, Jack told Business Insider, a lonely seven-month stretch in which he focused all his time and attention on rehabbing his knee.
But in the weeks leading up to the draft, his gamble appeared to be paying off. An impressive Pro Day saw Jack log vertical and base jumps that stacked up with the other top linebackers in the draft; evaluations and re-checks of his knee from interested teams vaulted him into the top 10.
On the morning of the draft, Jack revealed to the New York Post that his knee could require microfracture surgery down the road.
“[The degenerative problems are] there, but it’s nothing extreme. Down the line, possibly I could have microfracture surgery — potentially. Who knows what will happen?” Jack said.
It’s unclear how checks and re-checks from team doctors didn’t drum up concerns about possible surgery down the road, but even after his admission Jack was still projected to be picked in the middle of the first round.
Instead it was a free fall, out of the first round completely.
Jack’s talent is undeniable, and he is expected to be selected early in the second round on Friday night. But — points for honesty aside — teams were simply too concerned with his last-minute admission to use a first-round pick on him.
Carolina Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said he wasn’t surprised that Jack had fallen out of the first round, despite his ability as a football player.
“Not after what he said today,” Gettleman said. “Very frankly. The kid came out and said he is going to need a microfracture.”
The Cincinnati Bengals were also reportedly interested in Jack, simply because he was the most talented player available on the board when they went on the clock. But because of the dreaded microfracture news, the Bengals had similar hesitations and went in a different direction.
Jack admitted on Thursday before the draft that he would understand if he fell, but according to his agent, he was still disappointed to not be a first-round pick.
Nobody expected Jack to fall out of the first round, but then, nobody expected him to admit to potential follow-up surgery, either.
Teams who pass on him could soon be pulling their hair out — he’s that athletic. Conversely, the team that does draft him could witness him never pan out thanks to his knee.
But with so much on the line with a first round pick, Jack’s injury risks simply weren’t worth it. One has to wonder if Jack isn’t thinking the same about his great reveal on Thursday.