Defensive tackle Dominique Easley said he'd come back stronger from the ACL tear that ended his final year at Florida. The New England Patriots are making a gamble that he's right. The Pats have selected Easley with the No. 29 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
One of the biggest injury-induced risk/reward bets in the draft, Easley has explosive power and showcased elite disruption ability in the SEC while healthy. Unfortunately, he wasn't healthy all that often. Easley tore ACLs in each of his knees while in Gainesville, once in 2011 and again a month into the 2013 season. He surged back from the first tear to start 11 games at defensive end in 2012, something he believes he'll be able to do again next season in the NFL.
"I tore my ACL in 2011, and I got faster in 2013," he told SI.com in February. "So when I get back from this ACL, it's going to make me nothing but faster ... It's a blessing for me because I know what I went through, how much I improved after the first ACL."
Even with this injury history, Easley is listed as the sixth-best defensive tackle prospect by SB Nation, a testament to his ability.