Tracking concussion history for prospects

How to handle concussions during games have become a hot topic in the NFL. Now, head injuries are becoming more of a factor in how teams evaluate draft prospects.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team's scouting report on prospects include how many concussions the player sustained in college.

“That information is out there,” Newsome said last week at the team's pre-draft luncheon. “As far as what we do, and most teams do, is once we get guys here, we’ll get a baseline test done with those players, so that if a concussion occurs, then we have something that we can refer back to. But, it is something now that throughout the league -- and in all professional sports and on the collegiate level -- that everybody is spending more time looking at.”

This is not only a intelligent move. It's a necessary one. When a player has had concussions in college, there's a strong likelihood that he'll have them in the future. So having a player's history of head injuries is just as important as his history with knee injuries and perhaps even moreso.

Plus, the NFL has made the decision to protect players from themselves (and, in some instances, from teams wanting to put them back in the game too early). As a result, the league has set some tough guidelines for players to return to games after taking shots to the head, and those guidelines will only become stricter as years go by. If the league has become more sensitive to the subject of concussions, the teams have to increase their awareness of the players who are more prone to get them.

Teams are smart to get this information. But the smart teams are going to be the ones who use it properly. You can't let a player's concussion history overshadow his talent. If Troy Polamalu was coming out of college today, would he not be a first-round pick because of his history of concussions in college? Teams can't be scared off too easily with this new information. That could lead to passing up one of the best safeties in the game.

Still, this league is a business, and teams don't want to invest a first- or second-round pick in a player who has a short career because of head trauma.