Symptomatic Focal Knee Chondral Injuries in National Football League Combine Players Are Associated with Poorer Performance and Less Volume of Play
This study was designed to examine the relationship between previously untreated cartilage injuries in the knees of future NFL players during the NFL combine and their in-game performance when compared to players who did not have a cartilage injury. MRIs of players’ knees that were taken before they participated in NFL combine from 2009-2015 were reviewed by orthopedic surgeons to determine if they had any cartilage injury. The type of cartilage injury the players had was noted alongside the player’s position, draft pick number, games started and played, and position-specific performance metrics were reviewed during their first 2 NFL seasons. After reviewing 2285 players, 101 were found to have a cartilage injury without having a previous surgery to address it. This study found that when compared to players who did not have a cartilage injury, the ones who did have a cartilage injury were picked later in the NFL draft and both played and started in fewer games during their first 2 NFL seasons. While previous studies have looked at performance of already active NFL players, this was the first study to look at players and their injuries before they even entered the NFL.