Eric DeCosta: Sidney Jones' Draft Stock Won't Fall Much After Achilles Tear

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Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta knows how frustrating it can be to tear your Achilles just before the draft.

A few years ago he tore his on the racquetball courts, froze it, then got to a meeting that night (he was 15 minutes late).

So when DeCosta saw one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft class, Washington's Sidney Jones, go down with an Achilles tear at his pro day on March 11, DeCosta was bummed.

Jones was a player that multiple draftniks projected to Baltimore with the No. 16 pick. Now it's a question of where he should be selected.

"It drives me crazy when you get a guy that you really fall in love with out of school and maybe track for nine months and then he goes and gets hurt or has a surgery and might miss six weeks to start the season or 10 weeks to start the season, or gets hurt at his pro day," DeCosta said.

"The defensive board for instance; we had a lot of corners that we thought were really, really good players and then, in a blink of an eye, in over a two-week span, two really intriguing guys, Sidney Jones and Fabian Moreau, both got hurt at their pro days. That is just a challenge that we have to overcome."

Jones tweeted that his surgery went well and that his doctor told him he will "for sure be playing this upcoming season." DeCosta, who joked that he was jogging three months after his Achilles tear, believes it can be done.

The Ravens have dealt with players coming back from Achilles tears. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. both made successful returns from it, which gives Baltimore more confidence in taking a player with that injury.

With that said, it's obviously a concern. Not only is there the question of how injured players will come back, but it means the rookies will miss critical practice time at the start of their career.

"I think, first of all, you have to figure out how you like him as a player and what your threshold is, where you take him," DeCosta said. "I have seen players go in the first round that had serious injuries."

DeCosta pointed to running back Willis McGahee, who suffered multiple tears in his knee during his final college game. He was still drafted No. 23 overall by the Buffalo Bills, sat out his rookie year, then put up back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. McGahee had an 11-year career, including four years in Baltimore (2007-2010), and went to two Pro Bowls.

"There have been players that have gone very high in the first round with injuries like that," DeCosta said. "Sometimes they fall a little bit, but [Jones] is a really good player, and I don't think it is going to affect him that much."

DeCosta wasn't asked whether the Ravens would still take Jones at No. 16, or where they would consider pulling the trigger. He likely wouldn't have given his true answer regardless. But it will be interesting to see which team will take a chance.

Jones is hardly the only draft prospect teams, and their doctors, will be grappling with this offseason. A host of likely first-round picks that the Ravens would likely be taking a long look at are also dealing with recoveries.

UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley had shoulder surgery right after the combine, first-round Washington wide receiver John Ross recently had shoulder surgery, first-round Eastern Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis had ankle surgery that prevented him from any workouts and Ohio State safety Malik Hooker had surgery to repair a torn labrum and hernia.

Moreau, another talented cornerback and possible second-round pick, tore his pectoral while bench pressing at his pro day at UCLA. DeCosta said he also thinks Moreau should be able to contribute to a team in 2017.

"It seems to be a little bit more epidemic this year," DeCosta said. "It factors in at times, but again, if the injuries are predictable and we have a good feeling that the kid is going to come back at some point, and we have had players that had this type of injury, then it is OK."

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