Fournette, Ross, Kelly Are Reminders Of Why Warning Signs Matter

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the top benefits of living in the state of Florida is that there are beaches everywhere. No matter where you are in Florida, chances are you're only about a maximum two hour drive away from a beach. But, of course, this isn't just unique to Florida, there are beaches all over the country.

If you've ever been to the beach -- I sure hope so -- you know that, while fun, you're always looking for things to do. Whether it's swimming out in the water, building a sand castle or playing bocce ball, you're still looking for activities, even though you're there. One activity that can be found at certain beaches is jumping off either a pier or rocks into the water. Sometimes it's harmless and fun. But other times, whether it be due to how high up the jump is, how the current takes you in the water, how shallow the bottom is compared to the jump or that the rocks jut out in dangerous places, there are warning signs in front of the objects that say...


Do you know why such signs exist? It's because at least one person did not heed the natural warnings of the situation, did it anyways, and something very bad happened.

Warning signs exist for a reason, and when it comes to the NFL Draft, the first half of the NFL season has already given us a few reminders of why warning signs exist throughout the pre-draft process and why teams should listen to them more often.

Let's take Leonard Fournette as the first example.

The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, a draft that had the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt in it. When he's on the field, Fournette has played well. He accumulated more than 1,000 rushing yards in his first season with a 3.9 yards-per-carry average and nine touchdowns. But he did miss three games due to injury. This season, Fournette has only played in three games halfway through the year, and has yet to even complete a game he's played in due to another injury.

You can't treat every situation the same when it comes to injuries because it's a physical game and injuries are a part of it -- sometimes it's just good or unfortunate luck that plays the biggest factor. But, for guys like Fournette, his injury problems were unfortunately of higher odds due to his history. During his final season at LSU, Fournette battled constant hamstring and ankle injuries, and it was even reported that his ankle problem was chronic, one that would regularly re-occur and re-injure.

Fournette is a talented player, but here the Jaguars are now doing things like signing Jamaal Charles and trading for Carlos Hyde just to try to make up for the fact that Fournette is not available for them as much as they need him. And the thing is, he's only 23 years old. His body is already struggling to stay healthy this much at its peak? At a position that gets beat up more than any other position in the game?


When you're drafting a prospect high in the draft you have to make sure (as much as you can) that their talent will be available for you. With Fournette, he hasn't been, and there were plenty of warning signs the Jaguars bet again.

Let's talk about John Ross next.

When Ross ran his 4.22 40-yard dash, myself and everyone else in the room at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis gasped. We knew this kid was fast, but to be that fast is truly something special.

Because of his speed, Ross was one of the most coveted receiver prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft, as he was drafted No. 10 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. So far into his second season, Ross has just seven catches for 79 yards in five total games played. As of right now, he's on the sidelines again, this time due to a groin injury that will reportedly keep him out a few more weeks.

Look, I don't care how fast a guy can run, don't drafted a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver whose biggest asset is his speed who has already had two torn meniscus injuries on the same knee, an ACL injury to add to it, and a torn labrum in his shoulder. Ross had a 60 percent change of injury going into the 2018 season, and unfortunately that percentage was right.

At this point, the Bengals will be lucky if they can get Ross for a full year even once during his rookie contract.

I'm not going to say they could've seen this coming. That would be sort of ignorant to word it in that way. But I will say that there's no way I would have invested a Top 10 pick in a guy who already had three surgeries on the best asset to his game (speed/legs) with a body frame I already wouldn't trust dealing with NFL punishment.

The Bengals had the chance to see that, too.

Finally, we have to discuss Chad Kelly.

If you know me, you know I'm a guy that likes to take chances on high risk, high reward prospects, but man, what a bad egg Chad Kelly has proven to be throughout his entire athletic career.

This one wasn't as bad from an investment standpoint due to the fact that Kelly was picked with the very last pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, so it wasn't like the Broncos were losing out on a Top 10 pick like those other guys. But this is still a whiff due to why Kelly is not reliable.

Sometimes guys just aren't worth taking a chance on. Kelly has now been kicked off teams in high school, college and the NFL. His football career ended the way it began, it seems. There were warning signs every step of the way.

Taking risks is fun. We like following stories like that because it always gives athletes the chance to prove others wrong, write a great comeback story or a story of adversity in general. But how "all in" I am on each of these situations certainly depends on what kind of capital you're putting into them.

Using a Top 10 pick or even a first round pick on a player whose history tells me I might not even be able to use them?

Yeah, you can jump off the rocks without me on that one.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Chief Digital Officer

CDO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.