Despite a life-threatening heart injury, D.J. Hayden is gaining momentum as a first-round pick. (Andrew Dieb/Icon SMI)
Players are going to get injured. It's an unpleasant and inevitable aspect of the game of football, particularly at the NFL level.
That reality puts even more pressure on teams heading into the draft to ensure that the players they select can withstand the rigors of a 16-game season. And there are a number of players projected to go in the early rounds of this year's NFL Draft that carry health questions with them.
Here's a look at 10 and where they stand with the draft just days away:
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE
The ex-Florida State Seminole is one of the draft's great mysteries right now -- he had 11.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last season prior to tearing his ACL, so there is top-20 talent here. Carradine, who suffered his injury in late November, worked out for a reported 11 teams at a belated pro day on Saturday and ran an impressive 4.75 40.
Current Outlook: Back at the NFL combine, Carradine vowed to be 100 percent by April and it appears he's pretty close. May need to ease back into playing shape, but it's all systems go right now.
D.J. Hayden, CB
Hayden nearly died during a practice at Houston when he tore his internal vena cava (a major vein in the body). Are teams willing to gamble here? All signs point to yes -- Peter King wrote Monday that multiple teams may consider Hayden in Round 1.
Current Outlook: The recent buzz surrounding Hayden puts on display that teams are growing less and less worried about his heart issue. This is a different one -- teams know how to gauge knee or shoulder injuries; the heart is another matter.
Lattimore would love to play in 2013, but the reality remains that the South Carolina product likely will need at least a full season to complete his rehab from an horrific knee injury. There's almost no chance he's taken before Round 3 ... and he probably is looking at a Day 3 selection.
Current Outlook: Lattimore received an ovation from scouts after completing his pro day workout back in March. He continues to improve but there are -- and always will be -- worries about his knee.
As of Barkley's pro day at the end of March, questions remained about the strength of his right (throwing) shoulder. The former USC signal-caller may still sneak into the top 10, if Buffalo, Arizona or the Jets are smitten with him. Of course, he also could plummet deep into Round 2.
Current Outlook: All indications are that Barkley will be ready to go for training camp, but his pro day left room for some questions.
Jordan underwent surgery for a torn labrum on Feb. 28, meaning that the combine was the last time teams really got a chance to watch him run through drills. He showed enough there and at Oregon, though, to be in the mix for a top-5 selection.
Current Outlook: Jordan said that he was on a "three-to-four month" rehab schedule, which would allow him to get back on the field in late June or early July.
Milliner has long been tabbed as the top cornerback prospect in this draft but, like Jordan, he needed shoulder surgery following the combine (Milliner went under the knife on March 12). Both the Lions at No. 5 and the Browns at No. 6 are badly in need of help at the cornerback spot.
Current Outlook: Milliner is basically on the same rehab schedule as Jordan, but waiting an extra two weeks for surgery could delay his return until his new team is deep into training camp.
Jones endured a dismal pro day, including a slow 4.92 40, so he's not exactly riding a wave of momentum into the draft. Once believed to be a top-10 pick, Jones could wind up slipping well beyond that.
Current Outlook: Jones' spinal stenosis is simply a red flag that will never go away. He played, and was very productive, throughout college with that dark cloud hanging over him, but are teams convinced they can get eight to 10 years of production out of him?
It has taken Allen a long time to work his way back from a PCL injury. He finally worked out for scouts at a recent pro day -- the results were mixed, with Allen running a pair of so-so 40s (though, granted, he's far from a speed receiver). Tavon Austin appears to have surpassed Allen in the WR pecking order, but there's a jumbled Round 1/Round 2 mix at that position that includes Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter and others.
Current Outlook: Allen said recently that he's still not at 100 percent, five months out from his knee injury. He should get there eventually, but that lingering problem plus a recent report that he was asked to retake a combine-issued drug test might be problematic.
Hamstring injuries are known to require rather lengthy recovery times, and Lacy's torn hammy limited him from the end of Alabama's season through March -- he did not work out at the combine. A disappointing pro day on the heels of all that may have opened the door for another running back to be the first picked.
Current Outlook: Barring a setback, Lacy should be good to go once camp rolls around later in the summer. However, the damage might already be done to his draft stock.
Lotulelei's projected draft spot has fluctuated wildly, mainly due to concerns that rose at the combine about his heart. But follow-up checks ruled out any major issues, and Lotulelei again looks like a top-10 pick.
Interested teams no doubt have re-evaluated Lotulelei's medicals. Without any other problems arising since the combine, the path seems clear for Lotulelei.