Arizona State may get a huge lift soon if senior cornerback Omar Bolden is able to return to the field months ahead of schedule after tearing an ACL during spring workouts.
Bolden, one of only four unanimous all-conference selections last season in the Pac-10, suffered the injury during a scrimmage on Saturday, April 3. He underwent surgery the next week. The normal time-table for recovery of a torn ACL is between 6-12 months. For positions that typically require a great deal of twisting and explosiveness (like cornerback), the recovery can take even longer.
Bolden, however, has been progressing quickly and ASU head coach Dennis Erickson informed the media this week that it now appeared possible that the All Pac-10 cornerback would return soon -- perhaps as soon as the Sun Devils' October 29 game against Colorado.
As exciting as Bolden's return to the field could be, he'd be wise to consider the case of Miami running back Graig Cooper, who played in 2011 despite tearing his ACL in the bowl game the year previous. Cooper clearly wasn't the same player early in 2011 and though he did show improvement as the year went on, he was not drafted. This, after flashing the talent earlier in his career that usually results in a top 100 selection. Cooper ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after the draft. He did not make the team, however and is not currently on an NFL roster.
Scouts will certainly keep an eye on Bolden's recovery. When healthy, he's proven himself to be one of the country's better cornerbacks and returners. A three-year starter for the Sun Devils, Bolden took his game to another level last season, recording 52 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions. He was earned Second Team all-conference honors as a returner, averaging 29.2 per kickoff return.
Obviously Bolden's medical grade will determine his final draft status. Even with his medical grade unknown, NFLDraftScout.com currently rates him as a middle round prospect and the 9th best senior cornerback prospect in the country.