One of the top off-ball linebacker prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft might have to wait until 2023 to make his professional debut.
Former LSU star Damone Clark is underdoing spinal fusion surgery on Thursday to repair a herniated disk, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. An MRI revealed the issue earlier this month at the NFL Scouting Combine. Pelissero reports Clark is likely to miss the 2022 season but is expected to make a full recovery.
The news figures to be a crushing blow to Clark's draft stock. He was projected as a second-round pick in NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter's most recent mock draft, and now he must hope a patient team will be willing to give him a chance in the late rounds.
Clark broke out in 2021 after getting a chance to watch and learn from fellow former LSU linebackers Devin White and Patrick Queen, who both went on to become first-round picks. He ranked fourth in the FBS last season with 135 tackles (15.5 for loss), earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior. He ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash at the combine (11th-best among LBs) and was voted the top linebacker on his team at the Reese's Senior Bowl in February.
The 2022 NFL Draft will be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas.