No 2021 NFL draft prospect was riding a bigger wave of momentum than Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, who entered Monday night’s College Football Championship against Alabama averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game over his last two outings.
Sermon set the Ohio State single-game rushing record with 331 yards against Northwestern in the Big 10 championship game and ran for 193 yards against Clemson in the first round of the college football playoffs. He was expected to be a huge factor in the Buckeyes’ attempt to upset Alabama in the title game, but he suffered what appeared to be a serious collarbone injury on his first carry of the game. He was taken from the field to a local area hospital for further evaluation.
While Sermon’s injury was certainly a big blow to Ohio State’s championship hopes, it may have been a bigger blow to his 2021 NFL draft stock. He was scheduled to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl at the end of this month; that obviously isn’t happening now. He won’t be able to train with as much intensity — if at all — in time for the NFL combine or a pro day, either.
And while times on a stopwatch are a big part of the NFL draft process, they aren’t the only factor teams use to evaluate a player’s projection moving forward. Film review is the biggest part of the process, and Sermon checks that box. But part of what makes Sermon an enticing prospect is the power and authority that he runs with. If his shoulders and collarbone are damaged goods, teams might shy away from investing a top-64 pick on him this April.
Lower-leg injuries are usually more harmful to a running back’s draft value, especially for guys who rely on speed and hard cuts to gain yards. That isn’t the case here, but again, Sermon isn’t a quick-cutting back. He relies on his body armor, his upper- and lower-body strength to win.
Hopefully, Sermon will enjoy a speedy recovery and be back to full health by the time the NFL draft rolls around so teams won’t be left questioning what his status will be for the 2021 season. On talent alone, Sermon is one of the five best running backs in this year’s draft.