Top Pass-Rushing Draft Prospect Shane Ray Does Not Need Foot Surgery

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein sent shockwaves through the endless wall of pre-draft chatter currently underway in anticipation of next week’s event. In speaking with Houston’s SportsTalk 790 on Thursday he revealed (via Arif Hasan) that the turf toe injury that had been bothering top pass-rushing prospect Shane Ray is serious enough to require surgery, something that could put Ray on the shelf for up to five months as well as drop him out of Round 1 consideration in the draft.

Fortunately for Ray’s draft stock and the teams interested in his talents, it appears surgery will not be required after all. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that Ray met with a foot specialist on Thursday and that the doctor did not recommend surgery.

The specialist, Dr. Aakash Shah, has instead recommended rest for an injury described by NFL.com’s Mike Huguenin as “similar to turf toe,” a painful condition that can derail entire seasons if not career, reoccur without warning and can require surgical intervention to fix. Ray suffered the injury on January 1 in Missouri’s Citrus Bowl win over Minnesota and could not work out at the scouting combine as a result. Huguenin reports that “One team had an issue with the injury during Ray’s pre-draft visit; the team felt he was not progressing in his recovery and that the injury needed further testing.”

Ray had long been considered a top-15 or even top-10 pick, with a number of teams requiring a pass-rusher of his caliber. He totaled 120 career combined tackles, 34 tackles for a loss and 19 sacks in three seasons at Missouri, with 14.5 sacks in 2014. He joins Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr., and Clemson’s Vic Beasley as the draft’s top pass-rushers.

Though Ray won’t need surgery, turf toe is a concerning injury. There are likely some teams who will take a pass on him in this year’s draft who wouldn’t do so had he not suffered the injury, given its potential for pervasiveness. Others should have far less trepidation, with the rewards outweighing any risks the toe injury may present.

Photo: USA Today Sports