We've already discussed the events that led to the Green Bay Packers giving up the opportunity to choose between Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Alabama's Eddie Lacy. As you recall, the Packers traded down from No. 55 overall -- when both players were available -- and took Lacy at No. 61 after Ball went to the Denver Broncos at No. 58.
At the time, Broncos executive vice president John Elway said the decision was based on "medical." Now we can push the story forward a bit. Elway's top assistant, Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell, told a conference call of season-ticket holders that Lacy's 2011 turf toe injury was the root of the Broncos' concern.
Said Russell, via the Denver Post: "We liked both these backs, we had them very similar on the board. The issue with Eddie Lacy was we were worried about a toe injury that he had, which is probably what caused him to slip. And we really felt great about Montee Ball. We feel we have a career back in Montee Ball."
That concern jibes with a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report that suggested the Pittsburgh Steelers were also scared off by Lacy's toe injury. According to the report, the condition required a fusion of bones. Positioned at No. 48 overall, the Steelers passed up Lacy and Ball and instead drafted Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell.
So what do we make of this development? Should we be concerned that two other teams passed over Lacy not because of his skills but because of a concerning report on a once-injured toe?
Every team has its own health parameters for draft picks. In some cases, opinions are formed not so much on a player's condition to perform as a rookie but in the longer arc of his career. Some teams won't use a high pick on a player who is susceptible to a shortened career.
To be clear, we don't know if that's the case with Lacy or not. What we do know is that one team's conclusion could be always be considered an outlier. But two? Then you're getting closer to a trend.