Baun’s injury history raises major red flags. He tore his meniscus (shock-absorbing tissue in his knee) in the 2016 season. During surgery, tears are either repaired or removed, depending on the size, location, and shape of the tear itself. While his surgical details aren’t public, the fact that he returned in 6 weeks to play at the end of the season allows us to confidently infer that his tear was removed, rather than repaired. Unfortunately for Baun, 2 studies published on NFL Combine participants who have previously undergone a similar procedure both point to a poor prognosis. A study of 54 NFL players found that this surgery was associated with shorter career lengths and fewer total games played (5.6 years and 62 games in the surgically treated group vs 7.0 years and 85 games in their uninjured peers). A more recent study of linebackers specifically found decreased game participation in the first two years of NFL careers (7-9 games/year vs 14 in their peers). Adding to his risk profile is the 2017 Lisfranc surgery he had on his foot. Data from 26 NFL prospects who had this surgery prior to being drafted tells us to expect fewer games played in the first 2 years of his career (16.9 vs 23.3 games played by uninjured peers). This is all without taking into account his 2018 re-sprain of the same area in his foot that was injured in 2017. The effects of that aren’t clear, but they certainly don’t help his chances. While there isn’t necessarily evidence to suggest that his production will suffer when he does play, there is very strong medical evidence to conclude that we should be highly concerned about Baun’s long-term durability prospects.
Image Source: Bely Medved, system13photography, CC-BY-2.0