It isn’t very often that the Pittsburgh Steelers miss in the first round of the draft, but I think it’s probably safe to say four years on that outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was a miss, especially considering that he was taken in the middle of the round.
It has been frequently pointed out that the 2013 NFL Draft was a weak one as a whole, and the first round is littered with misses. It is just as frequently pointed out that there are specific names taken after Jones’ selection that would have been better choices.
One of them is Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, a Pro Bowler in 2015.
And one of the most frequently-injured players in the game today, or so it seems. He was limited to just eight games last season, starting with an ankle injury that he suffered while participating in the 2015 Pro Bowl—he even missed three games during that season—and he finished the year with a back injury.
Eifert had surgery on his back at the end of the year.
The tight end told ESPN that he “feels great” following the back surgery, but that doesn’t bring him any closer to joining his teammates who are currently participating in Phase One of the offseason program. In fact, it is more likely than not that he will not be able to take the field again until at least training camp.
Eifert did say that he believes that he will be ready to return to football activities by training camp, but even that is not a guarantee.
Last year’s ankle injury was not anticipated to last as long as it did, either. It ultimately required surgery, and he ended up missing games at the start of the season because of an injury that took longer to heal than expected.
While he has said that he is running again and even suggested that he feels close to 100 percent, he acknowledges that there is still a long road ahead when it comes to getting back into football shape, particularly in terms of strength—which is not made easier by a back injury.
“I’m still doing my rehab and my core stuff, just started doing some change-of-direction stuff so I’m just taking it one step at a time”, he said. “I’ve still lost a lot of strength with the nerve issues and all of that stuff. Just working through some of that. Once I get my strength back I’ll be fine”.
But the question is, of course, how long will that take? There is also a difference between being able to return to play and returning to play at a Pro Bowl level. And looking at the Bengals’ offense last season, even with him, they will certainly need the latter.