The feeling is nice — especially as Syracuse finds itself halfway to securing a bowl game and sits at 16th-best in the country on ESPN’s College Football Power Index as of Monday morning. But of course, Orange Nation got hit with some gut-wrenching news just a few hours before Saturday’s game — star receiver Oronde Gadsden II will be out for the rest of the 2023 season.
Gadsden was injured during the early portion of Syracuse’s game versus the Western Michigan Broncos two weekends ago. The preseason All-American was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury, which typically happens in the midfoot region.
The TNIAAM team already broke down the immediate implications, and there will definitely be more to discuss regarding the start of the offense as well as how Syracuse’s receiver core post-Gadsden will perform — we can’t overstate how consequential of a loss this is for the Orange.
What we haven’t discussed is what comes next for Gadsden’s playing career, his future moving forward and other big picture topics. That’s exactly what we’re going to do in this piece:
How will the Lisfranc injury impact Gadsden’s playing career?
Gadsden entered the 2023 season coming off a breakout campaign last year — which included an All-ACC first team nod headlined by his 61 catches for 969 yards and six touchdowns. For context, it was the most receiving yards by a tight end in the NCAA last season and the seventh-most in program history for a single season.
His diagnosed injury begs two questions — a) what’s the recovery timeline for Gadsden and b) can he come back to fully produce at pre-injury levels (or at least close to that benchmark)?
Lisfranc injuries typically require surgery and leave athletes diagnosed with it out of action for approximately 9-12 months (of course, it depends on a number of factors like the severity of the tear). The most recent notable athlete who dealt with a Lisfranc injury was Chet Holmgren, the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft — Holmgren was officially ruled out for his first season on August 25, 2022 and returned to the court on July 3, 2023.
Other notable names who dealt with Lisfranc injuries include Julio Jones, Udonis Haslem and Matt Corral.
Recent evidence suggests the injury tends to not damper performance following recover. A May 2016 study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine confirmed that out of 28 NFL players reviewed between 2000 and 2010, 26 returned to competition around 11 months from time to injury. Additionally, the study revealed no “statistically significant changes” following a return following Lisfranc injury.
On paper, all signs are pointing in the right direction for Gadsden, but there’s the obvious elephant in the room of not knowing for sure until we see him back on the field.
What does Gadsden’s injury mean for his NFL Draft outlook?
Gadsden entered this season as a projected top-10 receiver/tight end in the 2024 NFL Draft according to Pro Football Focus. PFF ranked him 8th overall in the preseason and was on pace to be Syracuse’s first receiver drafted since Mike Williams went in the fourth round in 2010.
Gadsden’s injury will certainly change his projection slightly — NFL teams in the first and second rounds tend to prioritize ready-now players with upside. Gadsden will have the latter, but he’ll still need time to recovery from injury and get back in shape.
For context, Gadsden did have two years of eligibility left with the Orange heading into the 2023 season. That means the option remains open for a potential return to the program, if he wanted to.
Then again, it’s also more likely than not that he’ll probably stick with the draft route — it makes the most sense given his preseason upside and already-known production. NFL teams will also not shy away from taking talent with injury concerns — the Arizona Cardinals picked former Syracuse cornerback Garrett Williams 72nd overall in the last draft after he tore his ACL.
A return to the Orange appears to be a long shot, but hey, it has to be asked given the circumstances. Gadsden himself said he hasn’t made a decision about his future and with NIL available, there is a chance he could return in 2024 to dispel concerns over his health, improve his NFL Draft prospects while being compensated.
No matter what happens, a full recovery for OG is the priority.