Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Whenever columnists and commentators get together to talk about the NFL football picks in any given season, they are quick to raise the issue of players that keep leaving college early with the draft in mind but who are not fortunate enough to get picked.

While it is easy to see where some of the criticisms might be coming from, one wonders whether the outrage emanating from commentators and analysts is warranted.

Of the 107 underclassmen that declared this year, only 30 went undrafted, which is a very tiny fraction. In fact, of all the underclassmen that declare in any given year, less than 0.7 percent of them end up regretting their decision to leave college early.

And even in such instances, situations are rarely so cut and dry.

For one thing, it isn’t always the player’s choice to come out early, even when they know they might go undrafted. Coaches all over the country will testify of players that decided to leave early because they thought they would be ineligible for their final season, usually because they had run out of classes that they could pass.

Such situations underscore the unfairness of a system that forces players to excel at academics, a field that is wholly unrelated to their passion, in order to successfully pursue football as a career. Not every player has the option to return.

This isn’t even taking into account the issue of tuition. For many players, it makes more sense to put their education on the backburner, with the hope that, once they succeed as football players, their careers will afford them the money they need to meet the financial requirements of their education without hampering their futures with hefty loans.

Of course, for some people, it all comes down to receiving what they think they are due for the punishment they have to take. Football is violent, this is a fact. For many players, if they have to take the punishment of the game and risk sustaining injuries, they would rather get paid in the process.

Players do not truly start earning until their second contract. In other words, the sooner a player can enter the league, the sooner they can reach that second deal. The younger the player, the more money they can expect to squeeze out of the team of their choice on the second deal.

The NFL values youth. There are a lot of older players in college who take their chances with the draft early because they want to try for that second contract before they hit thirty.

Admittedly, there are players who Leave College out of desperation because they have already reached their peak as athletes, in which case returning to college will do little to help their draft stock.

Some underclassmen have admitted to being driven by fear, particularly the possibility of losing their opportunity to more talented underclassmen; some players realize that because how loaded the next year’s draft class is at their positions, they must capitalize on the present opportunity before it’s too late.

Many underclassmen need the income to help their families. Peyton Barber entered early because his mother was homeless. While he went undrafted, he currently has a UDFA contract with the Buccaneers.

The simple fact is this: while there are underclassmen who make poor choices when it comes to the draft, the majority are driven by a number of very rational factors.


About the author: Jennifer Taglione is the owner of this fabulous website Stiletto Sports. Despite writing well over 500 posts, she still maintains that she is not a sports writer! She is however a huge fan of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, the Celtics, and totally kicks butt on March Madness brackets! Connect with her by following her on Twitter @StilettoSportsJ and subscribing to her weekly newsletter. For more info check out the About the Editor page!

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