CHICAGO — There’s no debating Myles’ Jack ability as a football player. Quite simply, the UCLA linebacker is one of the best — perhaps the best — players in this year’s draft.
But some teams may be scared off by an issue involving his right knee, and one highly respected draft analyst said Wednesday Jack could very well fall out of the top 10 because of it.
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“The Myles Jack thing is a really tough conversation, and I’m having trouble finding a spot for him,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “The concerns about his knee are real. In the NFL, you have a top 10 pick, character and medical are really important.Big BoardNewsday's Big Board: Top 100 NFL draft prospects
“The NFL cares about predictability of return,” Mayock said. “He’s got some long-term issues and he also has some concerns about whether another procedure will be needed in a year or two. That’s a long way of saying I’ll be very surprised if he goes in the top 10.”
The Giants have the 10th overall pick, and recent speculation has centered on the possibility of them taking Jack. But that might come as a surprise to Jack himself.
“I haven’t talked to the Giants, and they haven’t brought me on a visit,” he said Wednesday at an NFL event in Grant Park. “I talked to them at the Combine, but they haven’t brought me on a visit and they haven’t worked me out.”
The lack of contact might not be an accurate predictor of the Giants’ interest, however. They have made past first-round selections — including Syracuse guard/tackle Justin Pugh and Virginia Tech running back David Wilson — without speaking to them before the draft.
Jack believes his knee situation will not be a deterrent, and only learned of a potential issue after he underwent surgery last year to have the meniscus repaired. He has what is reported to be a condition called a “chondral defect,” which involves cartilage. Jack said he has been told by doctors that he may have had the condition most of his life, and that it hadn’t affected him to this point. The surgical procedure, he said, was unrelated.
In some cases, chondral defect can be corrected through microfracture surgery, which requires an extensive post-operative rehabilitation period. Some players have been forced into retirement after undergoing microfracture surgery.
Jack didn’t appear concerned and said he doesn’t need any further surgical procedures.
“It’s not what everybody’s making it out to be,” he said. “It’s not like I have an issue that needs to get cleaned up. It’s there, but it’s not a big deal. When they did the (meniscus) surgery, they said it was there before I got injured. I saw Dr. (James) Andrews in Pensacola. He said it’s probably been there before you had (the surgery). I’ve probably been playing with it my whole life and never knew it until I injured my meniscus. It’s one of those things where I’m living with it.”
Jack said he does not need to play with a brace. During the NFL event Wednesday, he ran around effortlessly with dozens of local youth participating. He even dropped back like a quarterback before delivering throws.
Playing in the NFL, however, is an entirely different matter, and some teams may not be willing to take the long-term risk on the UCLA star.