The 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the year just went undrafted.
Mark Herzlich tore the ACC to shreds in 2008, as a bruising and methodical linebacker with a great football IQ. He was seen as an easy 1st round pick. What happened in 2009, well, no one could have seen coming.
Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer.
As Profootballtalk.com notes today, Herzlich has picked up on Lance Armstrong for inspiration since the draft. Armstrong, the tour de force in France, is the penultimate champion of athletes making a comeback from cancer. Armstrong advises that it takes 18 months for an athlete to return to full strength after a battle with chemotherapy.
He’s been well on his way through that 18 month journey for a while, having returned to the gird for Boston College’s 2010 season.
A review of his game:
Herzlich displayed a lot of intangibles that NFL teams covet during his battle with cancer. From Dr. Richard Lackman, a cancer doctor with 28 years of experience, and who inserted the titanium rod/rebar in Herzlich’s thigh bone:
“I’ve watched a lot of people live, and I’ve watched a lot of people die, It’s a privilege to treat someone who has so much enthusiasm for life. He’s a kid who really appreciated what you’re doing for him, who understands why he has to go through what he has to go through. He’s brave. He’s tough.”
For the Bills, those intangibles would be just a bonus to what Herzlich could provide for one of their most basic needs – urgent help for the pass rush. Currently, the best threat the Bills have to take down the quarterback is the tandem of Arthur Moats and Shawne Merriman.
Like the rest of the NFL, Buffalo opted on a project pick in the 7th round. I like their selection of Michael Jasper, but it is going to be a long time before we know if his giant frame can be inserted into a starting lineup effectively.
What I don’t get is why every NFL team passed on Herzlich – sure, he’s a health project, but when (or if) he regains his true form, he could easily be one of the elite linebackers in the NFL.
Because of being passed over, Herzlich will have his choice of teams (whenever the NFL is back in business). Buffalo’s lack of a pass-rush might actually be very enticing for him, offering him a very good chance at getting on an NFL field sooner rather than later.
And now, with all the draft picks spent, there is absolutely no risk with him anymore.
Make him a good offer, Ralph.