By Ryan O'Halloran, Florida Times-Union Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 9:00 pm
What we know about UCLA linebacker Myles Jack: He is an elite prospect who would add a much-needed speed element to the Jaguars’ defense.
What we don’t know about Jack: Will the right knee injury (torn cartilage) he sustained last September equal parts shorten his career and prevent him from being a top-flight player when available?
“The key on this, we just don’t know enough,” said Bert Mandelbaum, orthopedic surgeon and co-chair of medical affairs at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles who has not seen Jack’s medical records. “Did he have a meniscus repair that just requires time to get strong? Is there a defect?”
The Jaguars know what’s going on with Jack’s knee, which was surgically repaired last fall. He did not work out publicly for teams save for a 40-inch vertical jump.
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley traveled to Los Angeles for a private workout April 16.
“If he’s ready for that kind of workout, I would imagine he’s feeling pretty good,” Mandelbaum said.
That Jack’s surgery is believed to be a meniscus repair and not a meniscus removal (which could lead to bone-on-bone stress), is a positive.
“That would be a very good sign,” Mandelbaum said. “You would love to be able to repair it and keep it in there so he has good knee function going forward.”
Jack was injured Sept. 23 in practice while covering a receiver in a seven-on-seven drill, ending his season after three games. He quickly had surgery and declared for the draft. By Nov. 1, he had relocated to Phoenix to begin rehabilitation.
The meniscus is made up of two C-shaped pieces of cartilage separating the thigh and shin bones. A twisting force or a hit from the side can cause the injury.
Jack was examined by teams at the Scouting Combine in late February.
“They were pretty up-front as far as moving my knee and twisting it,” he said. “My agent told me they were going to be really aggressive with it.”
Jack returned to Indianapolis earlier this month for a re-check.
Among the athletes who have had meniscus repairs are Jadeveon Clowney and Bryan Bulaga in the NFL, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook in the NBA, Duncan Keith in the NHL and baseball players Salvador Perez, Jason Castro, Victor Martinez and CC Sabathia.
NFL Network reported last weekend that Jack’s knee has a chondral defect, which refers to an area where the cartilage and underlying bone is damaged. If this becomes a problem, next up for Jack could be micro-fracture surgery, an arthroscopic produce that creates tiny fractures in the bone, allowing blood and bone marrow to seep out of the fractures, creating a blood clot that releases cartilage-building cells.
If the Jaguars draft him, they would likely have to manage his reps during training camp practice, not ideal considering he will be learning a new system. And how long will the knee hold up? If the Jaguars are confident he can stay healthy through his rookie contract (four or five years), then he could be the selection.
“A player in the top 10, you want him as clean as possible, both character and medical,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I know [Jack is] running around and looks great, but I think there are some teams concerned about the longevity of his career. I hope he ends up in the top five or six or seven picks, where he should be. But if he starts to slide, that’s the reason.”