|Coming off a knee surgery, CB Chase Minnifield is projected as a third- or fourth-round pick. (US Presswire)|
Some of the big names in the 2012 NFL Draft returning to Indianapolis this week for a medical recheck include Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
However, little drama is expected to be attached to the combine follow-up visit to Indianapolis by those players, all of whom are expected to be selected early in the first round.
|More on draft|
|NFL coverage on the go|
Tannehill already looked great working out on his surgically repaired foot; Richardson ran hard on the knee he had cleaned out; and Claiborne's injured wrist ligaments aren't that much of a concern, especially for a cornerback.
However, this will be an important re-check for a few players, most notably Oklahoma's record-breaking wide receiver Ryan Broyles and Virginia defensive back Chase Minnifield, both of whom are coming off knee surgery.
Broyles, who had ACL surgery on his left knee after his great college career was ended last November, is so eager to show he is making progress that he has a pro day scheduled Thursday before heading to Indianapolis the next day.
"I want to show I am making great progress," Broyles told NFLDraftScout.com. "I may not be 100 percent, but I feel great."
Broyles was rated as high as an early second-round prospect before the knee injury, but fell a couple of rounds until recent news that his rehabilitation is going well.
Minnifield had a scheduled clean-out in January, but it has taken an unusually long time to recover, reportedly due to excess swelling. The swelling was noted at the February combine, where he was unable to run. And his March 15 pro day performance was disappointing.
Minnifield, the son of former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl performer Frank Minnifield, is currently projected as a third- or fourth-round prospect by NFLDraftScout.com.
Here is a closer look at players scheduled for recheck:
QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (6-4, 221): After breaking a bone in his right foot, Tannehill couldn't participate in the Senior Bowl or combine and missed the Aggies' pro day in early March. He had surgery and was even forced to limp down the aisle with crutches during his wedding in January. Tannehill was finally able to get on the field on March 29 for a workout in College Station and looked good throwing off that foot and running a 4.58 40-yard dash. He is expected to be selected in the top 12.
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama (5-9, 228): Even though he played healthy throughout the entire 2011 season, Richardson had a meniscus scope on his knee and was held out of workouts in Indianapolis. He was back at full health for his workout on March 29 on Alabama's campus and didn't show any signs of being hampered by the injury. Richardson ran his 40 in the high-4.4, low-4.5-second area and looked good in positional drills, cementing his status as an early first round pick.
WR T.Y. Hilton, Florida International (5-10, 183): There might not be a more explosive athlete in this draft class, but strong durability concerns hurts his NFL future, including a hamstring issue that kept him out of any all-star games and the combine. Hilton was healthy enough to run at his pro day on March 9 and ran consistent times in the 4.3s, showing off his natural speed to pro scouts. He battled injuries over his career and his frail-looking frame creates concern with NFL teams, pushing his draft value into the middle rounds.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (5-10, 192): The NCAA's all-time leading receiver suffered a devastating knee injury late in the 2011 season, which has kept him sidelined during the pre-draft process. Broyles couldn't participate at the combine or Oklahoma's on-campus pro day and has yet to set a date as to when he'll be able to run for NFL teams before draft weekend. He feels confident he will be able to show "something" before the draft but the injury will make it tough for a team to invest an early round draft pick in him.
TE Coby Fleener, Stanford (6-6, 247): After spraining his ankle in the Fiesta Bowl, Fleener only lifted at the combine (27 reps). He rehabbed his injury to get ready for Stanford's pro day on March 22 and blew away scouts with his 40 times in the mid-4.4s. Fleener has been beaten up over his football career and carries some durability issues, but is still expected to be the top player off the board at his position because of his athleticism for his size.
G Joe Looney, Wake Forest (6-3, 309): A solid senior season earned him an invite to Tampa to participate in the East-West Shrine Game, where he had a good week of practice. However, an ankle injury kept Looney from working out in Indianapolis or at Wake Forest's pro day, and there are some concerns he might not be able to reach full health before draft weekend. A possible mid-round pick, he will fall down draft boards if he's not able to show scouts his ankle is at full-go.
C Peter Konz, Wisconsin (6-5, 314): Injuries have been an issue for the talented Wisconsin center, who suffered a blood clot in both lungs in 2009, a sprained ankle in 2010 and a dislocated ankle that forced him to miss the final few games of 2011. Konz was also forced to sit out at the combine and has yet to work out for pro teams, continuing his rehab on that ankle. He still expects to work out sometime in April, but durability is a bright red flag for Konz.
DE Donte Moss, North Carolina (6-3, 268): Paige-Moss tore the ACL in his right knee during North Carolina's Independence Bowl loss to Missouri but the junior defensive end still elected to enter the draft after his junior season. The injury and expected recovery time could keep him sidelined for the entire 2012 season, making it unlikely that an NFL team will invest anything more than a late-round pick to acquire his services. To assure even that, doctors will want to make sure that Paige-Moss is healing on schedule.
DT Josh Chapman, Alabama (6-1, 316): In a remarkable testament to Chapman's toughness and dedication, the Alabama senior nose guard played through much of the 2011 season on a left knee with a torn ACL and meniscus. Chapman underwent surgery to repair the torn ligaments Jan. 17 and will not be able to work out before the draft. Like with Paige-Moss, doctors will want to see how the rehabilitation is proceeding.
LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State (6-0, 241): Unlike most of the others on this list, Wagner hasn't undergone recent surgery and performed well the past two times scouts have seen him -- earning Most Outstanding Player on the North Team for his effort during the Senior Bowl and blowing up his March 29 pro day workout. He wasn't able to attend the combine due to a bout with pneumonia that required hospitalization, however, and thus is heading to Indianapolis as a precautionary measure.
CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia (5-10, 182): Boykin suffered a slight fracture to his right fibula at the Senior Bowl, which caused him to miss the combine workouts. He's scheduled to work out for scouts on campus April 9, which will ease some concerns about his recovery and also is likely to be asked to travel back to Indianapolis so doctors can take a closer look, as well.
CB Morris Claiborne, LSU (5-11, 188): Claiborne underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist March 23, a day after working out for scouts at LSU's pro day. The rehabilitation isn't likely to knock Claiborne off his perch atop the cornerback rankings and as a likely top-six pick in the draft, but doctors will want to make sure the wrist is healing as expected.
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (5-10, 183): Minnifield did not run at the combine due to a medical exclusion that noted "bilateral ankles." That term apparently refers to edema or the swelling has resulted in his slower-than-expected recovery from a Jan. 3 arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. It was a simple clean-out to remove loose cartilage. Minnifield didn't participate in the combine workouts and said he was functioning at only 80 percent when he had a disappointing pro day workout March 15 on campus.
SS Mark Barron, Alabama (6-1, 213): Barron underwent a double-hernia operation following the season and missed the Senior Bowl and combine. While he proved athletic enough during the Crimson Tide's second pro day March 29 to assure scouts the first-round talent is well on his way to recovery, Barron characterized himself as still only 80-90 percent himself following the workout.
FS Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State (6-1, 207): Martin announced via his personal Twitter account before the combine he wouldn't be participating due to suffering an injury to his right knee while preparing for the audition. He then underwent surgery and was unable to work out for scouts March 9 at OSU's pro day.
Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com contributed capsule material for this story.