NFL Draft Injury Impact: South Carolina WR Xavier Legette

04/22/2024
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A draft crush for Buffalo Bills fans, South Carolina’s WR Xavier Legette has a ton of potential but plenty of questions as the 2024 NFL draft approaches. A four-year starter at South Carolina, Legette never showed much production or potential until breaking out in his final season in 2023.

Before this season, Legette had never eclipsed 200 yards receiving in a season before exploding for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns, good enough to garner second-team All-SEC. Legette has also worked through several injuries and inconsistent play throughout his career before it all came together to solidify his name as one of the top wide receivers in the upcoming draft.

Will a lack of overall production and several injuries lead to the Bills passing on him or could they see a diamond in the rough? Read below for Xavier Legette’s publicly reported injury history and concerns.

Injury History

South Carolina

2019 

Undisclosed, missed 1 game vs Clemson.

2020

Hamstring strain, missed 4 games.

Legette missed the final four games of the season after suffering what appeared to be a moderate to severe hamstring injury, ending his season.

2021

Undisclosed spring injury, missed several practices. 

By training camp began, Legette was 90 percent better from the spring injury but the specifics of the injury were not identified.

Motorcycle/scooter accident, left knee/leg scrapes, missed 2 games. 

Legette suffered multiple cuts and scrapes mainly to his left side after he suffered an accident on his motorcycle or scooter, depending on the source.

2023 

Left hand injury, vs Missouri, missed 0 games. 

Ankle injury, vs Texas A&M, missed 0 games. 

2024 

Ankle soreness, missed Senior Bowl. 

Injury Analysis

Breaking down each injury, the left hand and ankle injuries appear to be rather minor. Only the hand injury kept him out of the remainder of the Missouri game but he was able to return the following week. He did have the hand wrapped up on the sidelines which doesn’t tell much as to what happened but confirms that it was an injury worth mentioning. 

It’s noteworthy that he sat out the Senior Bowl due to ankle soreness which is possibly related to the ankle injury suffered late in 2023. This may have been more self-preservation as he understood what was in stock knowing the Combine was coming soon and that the actual game ultimately did not mean anything. 

The 2021 injury that kept him out of spring practices did not have much information with minimal sources acknowledging an injury. It’s possible that he aggravated his hamstring injury in 2020 and was still recovering from the injury, though no additional details have been found. 

Looking at the information that is pertinent from an injury perspective, the motorcycle/scooter accident is noteworthy. Looking at the accident, various sources have interchanged whether this was a motorcycle or scooter accident in which he crashed and had multiple cuts and scrapes on his left leg/knee area. He missed two games and still played through games with open wounds, getting them bandaged up so he would not miss more time. 

He’s fortunate that he didn’t suffer any further injuries but the accident did earn him the name Easy Rider as a result. 

Looking at the most significant injury with the hamstring, he did miss four games at the end of the 2020 season. There are few details on how he injured the hamstring but considering he missed four games suggests that this was at least a Grade 2 strain. As mentioned above, this recovery may have lingered into 2021 spring practices, but this is not confirmed. 

Credit: holisticbodyworks.com.au

Assessing everything as a whole, there isn’t much to be concerned about. The biggest issue is the hamstring injury that he will be almost four years removed from by the time Week 1 of the 2024 NFL season begins. While there is always a risk of suffering a hamstring injury playing special teams and wide receiver, Legette is well outside the window to suffer a re-injury from the original injury. 

Injury Comparison

There isn’t a great single comparable for Legette when it comes to injury concerns. However, the Bills have had two prior selections that do shed some light on how they handle specific injuries. 

The first comparable player is CB Kaiir Elam. The 2022 first-round selection had a hamstring injury in 2018 during his senior year of high school. He did not have any further known issues with the hamstring throughout college and overall had minor injury issues while at Florida. The four-year span between the strain and draft suggests that if there is not an extensive history with the muscle strains, then the Bills will select them. The 2020 injury and draft in 2024 is roughly the same amount of elapsed time. 

As for the motorcycle/scooter accident, the second comparable player is G O’Cyrus Torrence. He suffered a concussion due to a motor vehicle accident, missing two games. While a concussion is more severe than cuts and scrapes, this at least tells me that the Bills acknowledge everything but it is not a major deterrent towards drafting a player if they suffer an injury during a motor vehicle accident. 

Bills Draft Selection

Overall, Xavier Legette’s injury history is of minimal concern. I have seen draft projections all over the place for Legette anywhere from the first round down to the third round. The Bills would be fine selecting Legette anywhere on the first two days without taking too much risk concerning durability. They did show some interest in sitting down for a Combine interview with him back in February. 

The more pressing question is whether 2023 was an aberration and if he can transition to the next level. His talent and ability to perform will ultimately determine where he is drafted. But it’s very reasonable to expect that he could become a Buffalo Bill if the board falls right. 

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