The medical recheck of Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers last weekend showed signs of potential long-term arthritis and some weakness in his surgically repaired right knee, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.
The information gleaned from Saturday's recheck in Indianapolis -- three months after surgery -- could prompt some NFL teams to back off the projected top-10 pick in this month's draft while others might salivate at the prospect that Bowers, who had 15.5 sacks last season, could fall to them, one team official said. Two officials from different teams said some could be scared off by Bowers' medical reports but that most will gauge whether the issues are severe enough to be problematic in the short term or long term -- if at all.
Bowers' agent, Joe Flanagan, said Tuesday that he is gathering as much information as possible from teams and has heard differing opinions, none of which leads him to believe his client's draft status will be radically affected. Flanagan also said Bowers' immediate future hasn't come into question, according to teams with which he has spoken.
"All 32 NFL clubs have had full access to Da'Quan's records since January and have had the opportunity to physically examine him at least twice," Flanagan said in a statement released later Tuesday. "With this knowledge, top-10 teams brought him in all last week and continue to bring Da'Quan in for visits this week. All of these clubs are strongly considering selecting him with their first pick, not based upon a potential medical downside, but because of Da'Quan's film, smarts, character and tremendous physical upside."
Flanagan also explained in the statement that Bowers' procedure, performed by Dr. Larry Bowman, included some elements of microfracture surgery but was "very minor." Flanagan said Bowers "was off crutches and bearing weight only three days after surgery" and received an endorsement from noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, a member of the medical team overseeing the player's rehabilitation.
Flanagan said Andrews' "comfort level was such that he said Da'Quan should 'be able to resume his professional football career without any problems' and that he has a 'good prognosis for his career.' " Flanagan also denied any signs of arthritis in Bowers' knee.
There's disparity in strength between Bower's left knee and his right knee, but Flanagan said that's nothing out of the ordinary after a surgical procedure. Flanagan added that Bowers' training has been rehabilitative and his client is just beginning to do the type of strength training that relates to football activity, so any imbalance should be rectified in the next few weeks or months.
"The fact that Da'Quan spent the vast majority of his time prior to April 1 (his pro day) focused on rehabilitation, not performance or strength training, is significant," Flanagan said in the statement. "This focus was designed to ensure complete healing and protect the long-term integrity of Da'Quan's knee, something that benefits both Da'Quan and the club that selects him."
Bowers also sprained the right knee in 2009 and missed most of three games that season as a result. It's unclear if that injury led to the damage in the knee or led to some of the issues that arose in medical exams at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and at his medical follow-up last weekend.
Flanagan steadfastly denied any big issues with Bowers' knee.
"As to his progress and the feedback from the medical recheck, every team we've spoken to, including multiple GMs, has said that, overall, Da'Quan's knee has shown good healing, has continued to get better since the combine, and, perhaps most importantly, showed absolutely no acute or remote ill effects as a result of his April 1 workout (i.e. no swelling, no increase in laxity, etc.)," Flanagan said in the statement. "We know of at least two 'stations' (multiple doctors) at the recheck who improved his grade from the combine. In short, their doctors indicated that the fact that the knee didn't swell up after a full pro-day workout, followed immediately by a week of visiting teams via air travel (which can increase swelling) is clearly a very positive sign.
"Bottom line: If it's holding up from a pounding in April, it should clearly hold up in August."