Injuries affect more than on-field issues

Updated: September 9, 2009, 4:53 PM ET
By Todd McShay
One of the hardest parts of the draft process is watching players like Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham come back for their senior seasons to help the team and then suffer season-ending injuries. Gresham and others like him -- including injured Sooners QB Sam Bradford -- know the risks, but it's never easy to see potential top-15 picks standing on the sideline.

Gresham is out for the season with cartilage damage in his right knee, but if there is any good news about his situation it's that there does not appear to be any damage that cannot be repaired with surgery and that it does not look like an injury that will become degenerative. Still, he is looking at a five-month rehab that will likely cost him a chance to participate in the NFL combine in February. Gresham could be medically cleared by doctors there, though, and that would give him a month to prepare for individual workouts ahead of the draft.

However, the injury will cost Gresham the chance to prove to NFL scouts that he has improved as a blocker. There are questions about his toughness, aggressiveness and desire in that area, and those will remain up in the air. Without the opportunity to prove himself as a blocker, Gresham's stock will be affected to a certain degree. He has now gone from a likely early first-round pick to someone who will have to fight to remain in the first round. What does that mean in terms of money?

DE Brian Orakpo got $13 million in guaranteed money from the Washington Redskins as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2009, which is about where we projected Gresham in last year's draft. Drop to the bottom of the first round and you find WR Kenny Britt, who got $6.5 million guaranteed from the Tennessee Titans. Potentially losing more than $6 million is tough, but Gresham has rare receiving abilities for a tight end and he will still have value when April rolls around.

For a look at the potential cost of Bradford's injury, two players to watch in the Notre Dame-Michigan game and a wideout with unique skills, become an ESPN Insider. Insider