With draft looming, Michigan's Kevin Koger sidelined 6 to 8 months with injury
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Kevin Koger was a terrific tight end for the Michigan football team. He started 31 career games and became a captain as a senior.
But his chances of being selected in this week's NFL Draft took a hit last month when he partially tore his left Achilles tendon during a low-intensity training exercise at BarwisMethods. He has trained there with former Michigan strength coach Mike Barwis since the conclusion of the season.
Koger's agent, Chicago-based Rick Smith of Priority Sports, said Koger had surgery March 27 to repair the tear and will be sidelined for six-to-eight months. That confirms an earlier report by draftinsider.net.
Smith said the surgery was performed by Dr. David Porter, a foot and ankle surgeon who is a consultant for the Indianapolis Colts. Porter also operated on a torn tendon in center David Molk's foot this offseason.Prior to the Achilles injury, Koger also tweaked his left hamstring during workouts. That prevented him from running a 40-yard dash at the Wolverines' pro day last month, although he did some positional drills.
He was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Smith said he has informed NFL teams of the injuries, but declined to speculate how they might impact Koger's draft standing.
"They've all been alerted," Smith said. "Either a team will draft him and put him in their system, or we'll have to wait it out. Either way, he's expected to make a full recovery, and he already has started rehab.
"His spirits are high, as they typically are. He's got a great attitude about the whole thing."
The draft begins Thursday with the first round, and concludes Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds. That also happens to be the day Koger graduates from Michigan (sport management).
Before Koger's injury became public, there were mixed opinions on where he would land in the draft. CBSSports.com wasn't high on him, projecting him as the No. 20 tight end prospect. They have him going undrafted.
ESPN was much more promising, tabbing him the No. 10 tight end in the draft. Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected him as a fifth- to seventh-round pick.
Kiper said during a teleconference last week he likes Koger and expects him to make an NFL roster in the fall, but his draft positioning suffered from Michigan's run-oriented offense and the erratic passing of quarterback Denard Robinson.
Robinson was only 142-of-258 passing last season (55 percent) and threw 15 picks. Michigan quarterbacks combined to complete only 155 passes, a 22-year low.
Koger caught 23 of those passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers do not stack up well in comparison to other draft candidates at tight end.
“When you look at Koger, he didn’t have the production," Kiper said. "Good size. I thought you saw (in) a number of games a guy that was a good leader, works hard in practice, solid, decent blocker. I think he can make a team.
"A little under-the-radar because of the production, and then fact you’ve got a quarterback situation there where it was more run than pass, in terms of success in the passing game. I think he could be a late-round pick. I wouldn’t say more than that.”
Koger also played for three seasons in former coach Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense, which accentuated the run and de-emphasized the tight end in the passing game.
"I probably am at a little disadvantage (because of the offenses I played in), but that’s fine," Koger said during an interview last month.
"Some people ask why I didn’t have 40 or 50 catches this year, and I say, 'Well, you have two 1,000-yard rushers in your backfield, and you have a receiving corps with Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree. I was lucky to get even what I got.'"
Koger could not be reached for comment for this story.