Before he suffered a torn ACL in Nov., 2012, Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine was perhaps the top prospect at his position in the 2013 draft class. But the injury sank his standing, and he was selected with the ninth pick in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers, though his game tape showed unequivocal top-15 talent. Carradine didn't play at all in his rookie year -- the 49ers basically saw him as a redshirt pick and hoped that he'd be ready to live up to his potential in the 2014 season.
Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley will have a similar issue as he goes through the 2014 draft process. Though he has rare burst, power and field speed -- his tape just explodes on a regular basis -- the fact that he's had an ACL injury in each knee will give NFL teams pause when they decide what the risk is worth. Both injuries -- the left ACL in 2011, and the right ACL in Sept., 2013 -- were non-contact in nature, and that doesn't help, either.
When he spoke with the media at the scouting combine, Easley tried to put the focus back on what he was able to when healthy, and calm any fears about his future.
"I tore my ACL in 2011, and I got faster in 2013," he said. "So when I get back from this ACL, it's going to make me nothing but faster... it's a blessing for me because I know what I went through, how much I improved after the first ACL."
Easley won't do anything at the combine, but he said that he's training and getting back to full speed -- "running, doing ladders, and lateral cuts." He'll have a pro day in April to show that he's all the way back.
Perhaps as interesting was Easley's admission that he's never watched an NFL game from beginning to end.
"I don't really watch football, so I just try to be who I am," he said. "I like to play football, but I don't like to watch it on TV. I do tape study... because you're not watching football doesn't mean you don't love football. I have another life also." That life includes spending time with his one-year-old son, and a serious interest in cartoons. His favorite used to be Rocket Power, which is entirely appropriate given what he does with his own game. As to what he'll be able to do in the future... that's the million-dollar question.