On Friday, Zack Bailey was cleared by doctors to run on grass for the first time since Dec. 1. On Tuesday, he arrived at the NFL Combine getting closer to full strength but not yet ready to show professional scouts all he can do.
“My leg is as good as new right now. It’s just a matter of time for the healing process,” Bailey said Thursday. “I’m great, recovering really well, can’t wait to get back and get going.”
Bailey participated in the bench press testing Thursday, posting 24 repetitions at 225 pounds. He will also participate in the vertical jump and broad jump this week but will not run the 40-yard dash or participate in position drills. He was save that for the Gamecocks’ Pro Day on March 21.
That will be Bailey’s first competitive event in Columbia since breaking his fibula and suffering ligament damage in his ankle in the second half of a 28-3 win over Akron in a makeup game. Bailey is ranked the No. 22 offensive guard prospect in this year’s draft class by WalterFootball.com. He is rated the 51st-best offensive line prospect at any position this year by CBSSports.com.
Bailey’s injury, he said, has left him wondering where he will get picked in April’s draft.
“I thought I had a good idea before the injury, but I don’t know now,” said Bailey, who started 38 games at South Carolina, more than any Gamecock on the team last year.
Still, he insisted he is not bitter about the injury or its circumstances.
“I wouldn’t do anything differently at all,” he said. “I’d still want to be out there playing. I guess I’d just break my ankle again.”
Bailey, a Summerville native who was a member of the SEC All-Freshman team in 2015, measured in at 6-foot-5 and 299 pounds with 33-inch arms at the combine. Like all the players who come for this event, Bailey underwent a battery of medical tests as soon as he arrived in Indianapolis, including an X-ray, MRI and CAT scan of his ankle.
“Everything as far I know came out fine,” he said. “They said it looked really good the first X-ray they took. They just wanted to make sure it was healing properly and the cartilage was going in the right places.”
Bailey believes the vertical jump and broad jump here will be a good test for his foot and thinks he can put respectable numbers despite just being cleared for full-speed work.
“You don’t know how much you miss your limbs until you lose one of them for a while,” he quipped.
Bailey believes he can help his case here even without completing every physical test.
“I hope the teams get a better understanding of why I play this game and where I am in my process,” he said. “They are getting a good, quality player that loves the game of football and wants to always get better and a hard-nosed guy who loves to run the ball.”
How To Watch NFL Combine
The NFL Network will carry player drills live and highlights beginning Friday and continuing through Monday.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Live coverage of running back, offensive line and special teams drills
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Highlights and review
7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Review of Friday workouts
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Live coverage of quarterback, wide receiver and tight end drills
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Highlights and review
6 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Review of Saturday workouts
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Live coverage of defensive line and linebacker drills
4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Highlights and review
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Live coverage of defensive back drills
8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Highlights and review