Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gurley stands alone

Of course, he was long considered to be just a three year player at Georgia. But he's the only draft eligible underclassman Richt has that is leaving early. As Weiszer reports, that's just one more from last season when no Bulldogs entered the NFL Draft pool, but it's still a stark contrast to recent years that saw many key players leave campus.
From 2009-12, the Bulldogs had 11 underclassmen enter the draft.
That included tight end Orson Charles (fourth round, 2012), safety Reshad Jones (fifth round, 2010) and nose guard Kwame Geathers (undrafted, 2013).
Thinking back, I always felt Leonard Floyd would leave after this past season. But shoulder surgery may have helped him decide to stay. Others that were possibilities - Malcolm Mitchell, John Theus, Jordan Jenkins, Justin Scott-Wesley, and Kolton Houston. Mitchell and JSW dealt with injuries and lots of games missed. And Houston is still progressing as an offensive lineman after emerging from Mark Emmert's purgatory before the 2013 season. So really, Theus and Jenkins were the only other possibilities to leave early who had played a lot this past season.

In Weiszer's piece, Richt argues that the importance of a college degree is often lost in the headlines this time of year. I wouldn't bet against that either, especially with someone like Jenkins who made a big deal out of applying to (and getting accepted into) the Terry College of Business back in August. Still, the lure of the NFL's early rounds and all that cash has to be tempting. Last May, 98 underclassmen threw their name in and 14 of them were selected in the first round. In fact, the first four picks were players who left eligibility on the table. From there it dropped off steadily until 45 of those underclassmen were left undrafted.

So to a player like Jenkins and Theus, that dropoff puts a lot of stock into their draft analysis they get back from the NFL. If they even requested it. Nationwide, the number of underclassmen requesting a draft grade went down dramatically.
The number of college underclassmen that have requested an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board is down a staggering 42 percent from last year, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent revealed in a tweet Thursday. The precipitous drop likely stems from a change to NFL policy regarding the feedback system for underclassmen. NFL Media's Albert Breer noted the changes to the system in July, reporting that college football programs would be limited to requesting feedback on behalf of five underclassmen. Previously, there had been no limit to the number of underclassmen that could request a grade.Another potential reason for the big drop could be the cautionary tale from this year's draft. Of the record-setting 98 underclassmen that were granted eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft, a whopping 45 went undrafted. That number prompted further calls from coaches and others for players to think long and hard before making the jump from college to the pro ranks as underclassmen.
Some fans get angry at players who leave early. I'll admit to being disappointed a time or two about a player's decision. But in the end it's not my place. This is often the moment they've worked very hard towards, and the decision to stay and study or leave and play full time is a personal one. So it's good to see these players are getting better feedback to make the best decision for themselves and their family. And not just blindly jumping at a possible cash grab.

Best of luck to Todd Gurley. Looking forward to seeing him continue his career for many years. And best of luck to those that are staying. Looking forward to seeing them continue at least another season 'tween the hedges.