NFLDraftScout.com has confirmed that Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski is being red-flagged by teams due to a spinal condition.
The source, a scout with an NFL team, confirmed that his team's doctors were questioning if Gronkowski "would ever be 100%" and that his team was acknowledging the injury by lowering Gronkowski's grade. The scout declined to talk specifically of Gronkowski's condition.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock reported Wednesday evening that Gronkowski had spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. The condition is characterized by numbness in the extremities, neck and back and leg cramps and can be hereditary or caused by previous injury, surgery, abnormal bone growth or or deterioration, according to WebMD.com .
Perhaps most frightening, the condition puts the player at a higher risk for suffering paralysis.
This is the same condition which former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels cited as a reason for his sudden retirement from the Washington Redskins and was also believed to be the primary reason why former Auburn star Marcus McNeill, also an offensive tackle, slipped to the second round of the 2006 draft.
McNeill, who found out he had stenosis while in college, said as much in a post-draft interview.
"A lot of teams ended up passing on me because they thought my back would keep me from playing." McNeill said.
What is important to note is that McNeill played four years in college with knowledge of the injury and did not miss any time over his final two seasons with the Tigers. In four seasons with the Chargers, the Pro Bowl-alternate has started 62 of 64 regular season games.
Unlike McNeill, Gronkowski has missed significant time due to spinal issues. He missed the entire 2009 season, in fact, and underwent surgery, a microdiscectomy on his back on Sept. 24. He has unable to workout at the Combine or at Arizona's Pro Day, March 12.
Instead, he'll be working out on campus tomorrow.