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After Being Diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Will Marcus Cannon Turn Into a Late-Round Steal?

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I know many of you in Steeler Nation are like me -- huge fans of Marcus Cannon -- and were hoping to see him drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. That's not going to happen following Wednesday's reports that the TCU offensive guard/tackle has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. As disappointing as that might be for fans hoping to see him get drafted, obviously nobody's thoughts are on anything but the well-being of the kid.

TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon has a treatable form of lymphoma that was discovered in the run-up to the NFL draft, sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

A source told that Cannon was diagnosed with a benign growth in his groin area over four years ago, but physicals for the draft revealed that it had grown. A biopsy and further tests revealed that the 6-foot-6, 350-pound senior has non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Cannon's representatives have released a medical report to all 32 NFL teams, sources told Schefter.

Cannon will begin chemotherapy Wednesday and will have three more treatments over the next three months and be finished by June 29. Because of his age and health, Cannon faces a success rate for beating the cancer of more than 90 percent.

Thankfully it sounds as though they caught it early, and that Cannon has a great shot at making a full recovery following chemotherapy treatments. Very scary stuff though for such a young man. And talk about a massive setback professionally after working hard his whole life to position himself to be drafted in the NFL.

So, what this does this mean for Cannon's draft stock with so little time for teams to reevaluate? Unfortunately for him and his family, the diagnosis almost assuredly bumps him out of the top two rounds, and perhaps all the way in to undrafted free agent status altogether. Should he be considered such a risk though?

Similar to what happened to Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, Cannon will have to miss a year of football, and work hard to get himself back into playing shape. It's likely now that Cannon will tumble into the bottom half of the draft, being taken somewhere in the fifth round at the earliest, and possibly going undrafted. Whether or not the Steelers would be willing to use a late round pick on a player that won't be able to take the field for at least a year is hard to predict. They took Dennis Dixon even though he was still recovering from and ACL tear, but this is a different set of circumstances altogether.

Whatever happens with Cannon in the draft, I hope he makes it through his ordeal without any serious complications.

Editors note -- I'm jumping in here with a few thoughts on the story:

Were Cannon to slip into the fifth or sixth round, I sure hope the Steelers select him. As I've stated time and again, I don't think more than three or four rookies are going to earn a helmet this year, if that many. I have believed all draft season that the mid and late round picks might be lucky just to make the practice squad. That's why I hope that Kicker Alex Henery is selected in the fifth round. More likely to make the team and contribute on a Super Bowl contender team in 2011. As for Cannon, fingers crossed for the guy, but hopefully he's back on the field as early as 2012. The odds are definitely in his favor, but as the son of a mom who battled through cancer, I know that nothing is a given and it's a grind both physically and mentally. But if he fights through it, that's a fifth or sixth rounder that could pan out and really contribute after a year -- he has that type of physical ability that's for sure. Finally, as scary as this must be for him right now, it has a strong chance of being a humbling experience that positions him nicely to live a rich and rewarding life of hard work and appreciation for life. If so, that definitely will translate to the football field -- his preparation, attitude, etc.

Sounds like a great low risk -- high reward situation to me. I applaud whatever team drafts the young man, be it the Steelers or someone else. Not for charity-type reasons either. It's just a solid risk to take for proactive rather than reactionary reasons. Go Cannon! Go Steelers!

-Michael B. -