INDIANAPOLIS -- You know that "everything happens for a reason" mantra? Well, try this one on for size.
Following the 2013 college football season, Cedric Ogbuehi was considering—even leaning toward—giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Texas A&M helped convince him to return largely by helping him procure an insurance policy, which covered Ogbuehi in the event he suffered an injury.
Which, of course, he did. Ogbuehi tore his ACL in A&M's bowl game. Now, that insurance policy stands as a multi-million dollar silver lining amid a frustrating situation. As Ogbuehi confirmed at the combine Thursday, the insurance will cover the financial difference between where he was projected to go in the 2014 draft (Ogbuehi said he received four first-round grades) and where he lands this year.
"Gotta see where I go first," Ogbuehi said when asked how much he will make off the insurance.
The loss-of-value policy is similar to that of former USC and current Jacksonville receiver Marqise Lee, who endured multiple injuries during his final season with the Trojans. Per FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman, Lee was "in line to collect $5 million based on the difference between his actual signing bonus and the value of this year's first-round average." Lee was selected No. 39 overall and received a $2.083 million signing bonus. Round 1 signing bonuses last year ranged between JaDeveon Clowney's $14.5 million and Teddy Bridgewater's $3.3 million haul. The first WR off the board, Mike Evans, received around $8.9 million from the Buccaneers.
Ogbuehi's preference, of course, would have been for the insurance policy to expire quietly at the end of his Texas A&M career. Had he come through the 2014 season healthy, Ogbuehi likely would be in the Round 1 mix, despite an uneven senior year kicking back and forth between left tackle and right tackle. He was a consensus top-15 prospect before '14 began.
"Of course, getting hurt, it sucks," Ogbuehi said, "but you've got to live with it and move on."
Ogbuehi was fewer than two quarters from finishing his collegiate career relatively unscathed. Then, in the third quarter of A&M's win over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl, he "took a hit on the side of the knee," he said. "Thought it was a sprained MCL so I kept playing." Shortly thereafter came word of a torn ACL, an injury that usually carries a rehab timetable of between six and nine months. The 6'5", 306-pound Ogbuehi said he expects to be ready for training camp, but that may be an optimistic outlook. (Even Adrian Peterson needed nine months to return and his recovery is considered darn near miraculous.)
Setting aside the long-term outlook, Ogbuehi will not be able to work out for NFL teams here in Indianapolis nor at Texas A&M's pro day next month. His draft stock, then, hinges on when a franchise is willing to take a leap of faith.
"I'll come back next year, full go," Ogbuehi promised. "I'll have to get my conditioning down, but once I get there, I'll pick it up pretty fast."
Another mystery enveloping Ogbuehi is, to put it simply, what happened last season before he hurt his knee. A&M moved him from his right tackle spot to the left side, expecting that he would follow in the footsteps of previous draft picks Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews as a dominant blindside blocker.
He struggled, though, and A&M shifted him back to the right in November. Coach Kevin Sumlin insisted that the move was not an indictment of Ogbuehi's play, but he tape showed otherwise.
"We've moved Jarvis Harrison out to tackle and Cedric to right tackle, and that's nothing against Cedric's ability at left tackle," Sumlin said. "Jarvis is more comfortable over there. That's a tribute to Cedric being a team guy. There is prestige at left tackle, but Jarvis has a better set over there. ... So as a team, as an offense, we've made that switch to make our line the strongest it can be."
Said Ogbuehi: "Left tackle [is the most important position on A&M's line], but you get the best five out there."
Ogbuehi still projects as a potential NFL left tackle, despite his steadier performance from the right. Everything about him is guesswork at the moment, however, at least until he can get back on the field and begin to prove his worth all over again. Until then, Ogbuehi will hope someone is willing to take a shot on him in Round 1, a year after teams would have been lining up to get a crack at him.
"I don't look back," Ogbuehi said. "There's no point."