Danario Alexander went undrafted in 2010.
It wasn't because he wasn't physically gifted, because he was. The 6'5" wide receiver from Marlin, Texas was big, strong, and fast. He also caught the ball most of the times it was thrown to him.
It wasn't because he didn't have the numbers, because he did. In his senior season, Alexander caught 113 passes for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games. That's an average of 8.6 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown every game. He also threw a touchdown.
It wasn't for a lack of accolades, either. Alexander was a first-team All American his senior season.
Nope, it was a left knee injury that scared the scouts. A knee injury that most of them witnessed first-hand during Senior Bowl practice. I'm having a hard time finding hard evidence to back up this claim, but it would appear Alexander tore his ACL on that practice field.
In the two years following the Senior Bowl, after signing with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent, Alexander had five surgeries on his left knee.
Paying the Price
It wasn't as if these knee injuries came out of nowhere. In addition to playing football and baseball in high school, Danario also the Texas state champion in the triple jump (personal best of 49 ft 5 in or 15.06 m) and state runner-up in the long jump (PB of 24 ft 6 in or 7.47 m) in 2006. It was well known that his knees had taken more of a beating than your average 22 year old Wide Receiver.
The Rams, whose top receiver in 2010 was Danny Amendola, needed help. They took a flier on the kid that went to nearby Missouri that could be a star in the league if he got lucky with his knees.
Alexander rushed back from the first surgery, getting back on the field by Week 6 against the San Diego Chargers. In his first game as a pro, "DAX" caught two 38 yard passes (one of them for a touchdown) and helped the Rams to upset the Chargers. The following week, he caught a 6-yard pass and tweaked his knee again. He wouldn't get back on the field until Week 12.
This kept up for the rest of his time with the Rams. A stellar game, followed by some time missed with a sore knee and offseason knee surgery. This was seen as standard protocol for a player recovering from a major knee injury.
In 2012, with Alexander unable to participate at training camp with yet another injury to his left knee, the Rams moved on without him. He took the time off to rest his knee as much as possible, and he answered the phone when the Chargers were desperate for a receiver halfway through the 2012 season.
Want to know how badly the Chargers needed a wide receiver? In the first game following Danario being signed by the team, before he was ready to get on the field and play, the team lost to the Cleveland Browns 7-6. They couldn't manage more than two field goals against a team that finish 5-11 and fired their head coach at the end of the season.
In the next game, the team threw caution to the wind. They were going to ride Alexander's big-play talent until his knees completely fell apart, because it was their only hope to win a game.
In his first game, he caught 3 passes for 61 yards in a win against the Chiefs. In the next, he started and caught 5 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Through the second half of the 2012 season, Alexander averaged roughly 5 catches, 80 yards and a touchdown per game. It was exactly what a team wants from their #1 WR, and not at all what you expect when you sign a free agent off the street.
Worst Case Scenario
It hasn't gotten bad from there, it has gotten hellish.
Heading into 2013 with a smile on his face, Alexander tore the ACL in his right knee in training camp practice. It marked the first time he needed surgery on that knee, and it undoubtedly puts more pressure on his already shaky left knee. He missed the entire 2013 season.
I'll let you guess if things are going well or not since then...
The long history of knee problems experienced by San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander has grown even more extensive.
Alexander has required "multiple" surgeries on his right knee because of infection after undergoing a second reconstruction of his anterior cruciate ligament in January, a source told FOX Sports 1.
This setback has cast doubt upon whether Alexander -- a pending unrestricted free agent -- will be able to play in 2014.
Having undergone his initial ACL surgery last August following a preseason injury, Alexander suffered complications that required him to undergo a second reconstruction. Infection followed that forced Alexander to receive intensive antibiotic treatment as well as the subsequent surgeries, the source said.
A Match Only Made in Dreams
I can't tell you how many tweets and e-mails I've received regarding Danario Alexander this offseason. The Chargers need a WR to play opposite Keenan Allen? Sign Danario! The solution to all of the team's problems, that's Alexander.
Look, the guy is untouchable at this point. It's the unfortunate truth. Especially this season.
If you invite him to training camp (next year), he's obviously too talented to cut. However, by allowing him to make the roster, you're essentially guaranteeing less value for your team than if that roster spot had gone to someone that could contribute for 16 games. The Chargers already have a guy like that (Malcom Floyd) and they definitely don't need another.
If there is one thing that NFL GMs despise, it it having ticking time bombs on their roster. Guys that will get injured at any moment, screwing up the depth chart and making them curse the decision they made back in August to keep him over a guy that could play offense, special teams, and provide consistency.
The good news is that Danario is still only 25 years old, and he can maybe convince a team starved for WR depth to sign him to a minimum contract and invite him to training camp, and he'll have time to earn his way back. When a team doesn't have any option for a #4 WR, you could do a lot worse than the uber-talented Alexander.
Unfortunately, for Chargers fans, San Diego already has injury-prone Malcom Floyd, injury-prone Eddie Royal, potential-filled Vincent Brown and "Swiss Army Knife" (Seyi Ajirotutu) to pair with Keenan Allen. Danario Alexander is no longer a fit to catch passes from Philip Rivers.