Brandon Thomas, who was ranked as the third best guard prospect in this year’s draft (and a 2nd round type of player) tore his ACL on a workout with the Saints a short while ago. His draft stock has now plummeted faster than Enron in 2001. When a player has a top 50-60 type of talent, and gets injured, where do you place him in a draft? Do you not draft him because it’s a waste of a draft pick? Do you draft him based on where he would have been drafted anyway?
There have been cases with running backs like Willis McGahee that the Bills drafted even though he was injured, and last year with Marcus Lattimore of the 49ers. My guess is that Brandon Thomas will still be drafted, but as to what round I can’t speculate.
How this turns out to be Thomas’ loss, could ultimately be the New York Jets’ gain. Thomas is a talented guard, and the Jets have Willie Colon and Brian Winters as starters. Colon is coming off injury, and Winters is average at best. Thomas could be an upgrade over both of those guys. Here’s where it gets good.
The Jets have 12 draft picks. One extra through trade, and four compensatory picks. The compensatory picks cannot be traded, so the Jets have to draft someone. You can’t realistically expect a team to draft 12 players and all of them, or even half of them be on the opening day roster when you have that many picks. The good thing about a guy like Brandon Thomas is that the Jets can spend a 4th rounder, of which they have three, and tag Thomas with it.
The 4th round could be a bit high for a guy that won’t play a down of football this year, but until recently teams routinely drafted quarterbacks in the first round and sat them for a year or two to learn the ropes. It could be in the Jets best interest to draft a guard that is potentially better than the two starters they currently have, while also never having to count that drafted player on this year’s roster. They can draft, injured reserve him, and stash him as a starter for 2015 without batting an eye.
Although I feel bad for any player that injures himself just prior to the draft, this could help the Jets on so many levels for talent development, and building a strong roster in the future. I’m absolutely sure that 31 other teams in the NFL have the same idea, but they don’t have 12 draft picks to play with and make it happen.