Sports Medicine Doc on Landon Dickerson: ‘Let the Graft Heal’

What are the Eagles facing with Landon Dickerson's injury history? We turned to Dr. Jessica Flynn to find out
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PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles understand they took a calculated risk on second-round pick Landon Dickerson, the former Alabama star offensive lineman with the first-round talent and the medical history of a tortured 35-year-old veteran.

Four significant injuries in college that ranged from Dickerson's time at Florida State to Tuscaloosa - ACL tears in both knees and two significant ankle injuries, including the same kind of tightrope surgery that failed to save the 2020 season for Lane Johnson - had some around the league begging off the 6-foot-6, 330-pound road grader.

Whether all the injuries in college meant knocking Dickerson down from potential Day 1 to a Day 2 pick like the Eagles, or even Day 3, almost assuredly varied around the league from club to club. 

For Howie Roseman, he insisted that the Eagles didn't want to be "risk-averse."

"We want to take chances," the GM said. "When we think about Landon, think about what kind of player we think he is and what kind of player we think he can be in the National Football League."

What kind of chances are the Eagles really taking, though?

To better understand, SI.com's Eagle Maven discussed Dickerson's history with Dr. Jessica Flynn, a sports-medicine specialist from the Boston area who has been covering sports injuries for BostonSportsJournal.com.

"I think one good piece of news is that it's two different ACLs so it's not two ACLs on the same knee," Flynn explained. "I think [two tears in the same knee] is something that's a little bit more worrisome so I think that's most likely why it didn't affect his draft stock quite so much."

While studying Dickerson, Flynn noticed the rookie was a little knock-kneed and that could have caused the extra strain on his knees.

"Injury problems for him is something you're going to have to think about the fact that he's a little bit knock-kneed could certainly have played into his risk for having the ACL tears," Flynn said. "... "Basically, [that's] when your knees go in a little bit. we call it genu valgum.

"It's when the knees go in a little bit. Some people's legs bow out that's the opposite and some people's knees go in and having knees that go in does put you at increased risk because you're putting more stress on the ACL when you're playing sports."

The good news there is that will be addressed with a professional medical and training staff, according to Flynn.

"Hopefully now that he's getting in with an NFL training staff and really knows his body a little bit better after going through all these injuries it's something he can turn around in the pros," she speculated.

The biggest concern with ACL tears is arthritis, according to Flynn.

"I think the biggest concern with ACL tears is really the arthritis that happens in almost every knee that has an ACL tear whether it's repaired or not," said Flynn. "... how quickly is arthritis going to set in? Is it going to be in the next five years, the next seven years, or is it going to be in the next 15 and the bigger guys are at increased risk of that happening a little bit sooner."

When it comes to prospects with injuries, everything in the NFL is a cost/benefit analysis.

"We know it’s a risk," said Roseman on drafting Dickerson, "but we think it’s a risk worth taking."

The one recommendation Flynn has is not rushing things. Although Dickerson is moving well and ahead of his own rehab goals the Eagles should remain cautious.

"I think the soonest thing fans should really think about is the fact that he might not be ready at the beginning of the season because he just had surgery in I think December you want to give him at least eight months and a bigger guy maybe even a little bit more time to recover," Flynn said. "Let that graft heal because you don't want him to tear it again.

"That would be kind of disastrous."

Here more of what Flynn had to say when she joined the Birds 365 show on Friday:

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.