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Optimum Performance: DNA of New Orleans Saints’ top draft picks — will it protect them?

Andrus Peat stands on stage with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, right, after being drafted 13th by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini) (Jeff Haynes)

Much like “Black Friday” — that mad rush the day after Thanksgiving to get the best deals on Christmas gifts, each year in April the NFL has its own version of controlled chaos. That might be a somewhat harsh comparison; however, there are at least as many backroom deals going as in our Louisiana Legislature, when it’s in session, as with each NFL team attempting to trade up or down to acquire its next class of super stars.

That’s not to say that each potential NFL draft pick has not been poked, prodded, and analyzed — with numerous medical, physical, psychological, and performance tests, leading up to draft day.

After the recent draft, Saints head coach Sean Payton was quoted as saying, “I feel like the class this year, right now, has the DNA we’re looking for.” So, let’s take coach Payton’s cue and analyze the DNA of the Saints top three draft picks.

“DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms.”

Story by

Mackie Shilstone,

Contributing writer

Its been often said that certain people possess the right DNA for a specific job. But, can that same DNA protect a soon-to-be professional football player, who has a previous history of an injury(s) – leading into the weekly train wreck known as the NFL?

Just take a look at the many retired NFL players, who litter the roadside with the aftermath of traumatic injuries to the brain, spine, and almost every other body part.

A collegiate injury review of the Saints first round draft pick, former Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2015, could only turn up a hand injury sustained in his freshman year, which kept Peat out of one game.

Relative to a future potential injury risk, a description of Peat’s technique on NFL.com said, ” (Peak’s) technique breaks down when facing wide rushers… opens up prematurely and (he) turns into a lunger.”

I personally don’t like that part, since Peat could easily expose himself to a medial or lateral knee injury (anterior cruciate, or medial / lateral collateral) — when the speed and the intensity of the NFL game collides with his rookie inexperience. His technique deficit needs to be addressed quickly.

The Saints second first round draft pick (31st overall), Stephone Anthony, a former Clemson linebacker, was forced to sit out a 2011 game against Boston College, with a sprained ankle — immobilized with a “medical boot.”

It’s been reported in scouting reviews, that Anthony is, “stiff in the hips.” With a prior history of an ankle sprain that required immobilization and tight hips, Anthony becomes potentially more susceptible to a knee injury, if he has not previously or when he gets to the Saints, been introduced to and following a supervised “prehab-type” injury prevention protocol.

And, rounding out the Saints first three picks is former Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, a second round, 44th overall choice, who presents the Saints with some unique challenges.

Bleedinggreennation.com, which follows the Philadelphia Eagles, reported that, “In 2011, the sophomore started the first four games at defensive end before suffering a knee injury that ended his season.” In 2012, the same website reported that, “Kikaha suffered another knee injury during training camp and redshirted the entire season.”

In 2011, an “NFL Management Council analysis of players who entered the NFL between 1993 and 2002 (found) the average career length for a player who is on his club’s opening-day roster as a rookie is 6.0 years.”

That same year NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said, “The fundamental principle of our business model necessarily includes that every player only plays for an average of 3.2 years.”

Let’s hope the rookies make the cut – not surgical.

Mackie Shilstone, a regular contributor to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, has been involved in the wellness sports performance industry for nearly 40 years. He is currently a fitness consultant to Serena Williams and has trained numerous other professional athletes and consulted a litany of professional sports franchises. He is St. Charles Parish Hospital’s fitness and wellness expert. Contact him at mackieshilstone.com.

Link: Nola.com