A Special Message To The Underclassmen That Declared Early For The NFL Draft: Tough Sh:t

I don’t think there’s a bigger decision in college football player’s life than when to make the jump for the pros. We’ve seen great college players screw that decision up: Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett famously left too early, and Matt Leinart arguably stayed too late. So should a college player be allowed to declare for the draft, and then change his mind? One columnist says yes, he should.

Most of those guys, maybe all of those guys, have received the kinds of benefits from agents that would wreck NCAA eligibility. They’ve received cars or cash or clothes, or all the above. Letting them back on the college football team would be unprecedented. Big freaking deal.

Desperate times, people. Desperate times call for desperate actions, and this time here is desperate for most of those 56 young men. They left behind their college cocoon and entered a brave new world full of … nothing. No signing bonus. No paycheck.

No degree. No job. No money.

Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports points to the case of Dion Lewis, who started at running back for Pittsburgh for two years. Lewis made the decision to jump into the draft pool this year, despite having two more seasons of eligibility remaining.

Dion Lewis entered the 2011 draft after his redshirt sophomore season. He’s not considered a first-round draft pick, or even a second-day pick. He’s projected to be chosen on the draft’s third and final day, somewhere between rounds four and seven. Assuming he goes in the sixth round, Lewis would get a signing bonus between $50,000 and $100,000. Peanuts, in other words.

So while everyone waits for the lockout to end, how much walking-around money is an agent going to front Dion Lewis? Not much. Because to an agent, Lewis isn’t worth much.


I would love in a world where $50,000 is just “peanuts,” in Doyel’s words. And I don’t see what’s so “desperate” about staying in school another year, compared to any other year.

Lewis made a calculated decision to enter the draft, at least I hope he did, and I could make an argument either way whether it was a good decision or a bad one. But he gave up the chance to finish school at a time when everyone knew that the NFL was going to lock out the players. This should not have been a surprise to anyone.

I don’t know why Lewis would choose to go back now; he wasn’t leaving based on his draft projection so much as (in my opinion) his refusal to work under a new head coach.

When the basic tenet of your argument is Think Of The Children, that’s a solid indicator that your argument sucks. And this one does. College players need good advice and good information. Most of them have that, and are making the jump into the deep end of the pool anyway. It’s up to them to start swimming.