Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy is expected to miss the rest of the 2009 season due to a broken left wrist. The injury occurred earlier in the year, but was made worse in Saturday's matchup with Northern Arizona. Hardy, according to head coach Houston Nutt, will undergo surgery on the wrist tomorrow. His collegiate career appears over.
The 6-4, 265 pound Hardy is a dominating force when healthy. The problem is, he's never made it through an entire season with the Rebels, battling multiple foot injuries before the fractured wrist.
He led the Rebels in sacks this season (5) and had 26.5 for his career. Injuries kept him from starting a single game as a junior (and only four as a sophomore) but in the 19 games in which he played, Hardy registered 18.5 sacks, earning all-conference accolades from league coaches after both seasons.
In an era of pure speed rushers, Hardy's size, strength and hand technique made him unique. He enjoyed some of his most impressive games against the SEC's top tackles. His 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and multiple hurries of Tim Tebow were a primary reason for the Rebels' stunning victory over Florida last year.
NFLDraftScout.com has ranked him as the top defensive end of the 2010 senior class from the beginning -- and from a talent standpoint he deserves to remain there even with this latest injury.
For all of his talent, however, Hardy's lack of durability and off-beat personality is certain to drop him on draft day. Few players in league history will have been more scrutinized (both medically and in interviews) at the Combine. It will take a confident team, indeed, willing to spend a first round pick on a player who has never made it through a full collegiate season healthy.
In a draft destined to be known for great defensive linemen (principally Ndamukong Suh and potentially Gerald McCoy), Greg Hardy remains the enigma. If he can ever recover his health, he could be prove to be the best pass rusher from this class.