Knile Davis Makes Major Mistake by Declaring for 2013 NFL Draft

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

Sep 29, 2012; College Station, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks running back Knile Davis (7) celebrates a touchdown run against the Texas A&M Aggies in the first quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, Knile Davis looked like a future NFL star.

A lot has changed since then, however, which made his decision to declare for next April's NFL draft a surprise. Going back to Arkansas for his senior season was the better option.

If he would have been eligible to come out of college after his sophomore season, in which he rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, he would have been a coveted prospect. The same can't be said right now.

In 2011, Davis missed the entire season with an ankle injury that he suffered during preseason practice. It was the third time that Davis had to fight back from various ankle problems, which will be an immediate red flag for NFL teams.

Running backs suffer enough injuries at the next level from the brutal pounding that they take on a weekly basis. Add in lingering ankle issues, and teams are rightfully going to proceed with plenty of caution.

It might be a different story if Davis could have shown that he was all the way back to 100 percent this season, but that didn't happen. He looked like a shell of his former self, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, as he was outshone by Dennis Johnson.

The game-by-game details don't help him. He rushed for 70 yards in the season opener against an overmatched Jacksonville State squad and didn't top that number the rest of the way.

Davis was a far cry from the dynamic back who thrived under Bobby Petrino. He didn't showcase the same type of agility, which prevented him from making the game-breaking plays that he made in 2010.

It leaves NFL scouts and coaching staffs in a difficult spot. They know what he used to be capable of before the serious ankle injury, and there's certainly room on just about every roster for a player like that, but nobody knows if he's capable of it anymore.

That's why spending another season with the Razorbacks was the right path to take. It would have given him another offseason to get back to full strength. Then he would have had another full season to audition for the NFL.

As it stands now, he has to hope that a team is willing to take a chance on him despite the red flags. CBS Sports projects him as a sixth- or seventh-round prospect, which puts him in danger of going undrafted altogether if teams don't like what they see between now and April.

The allure of an NFL paycheck is undeniable. It's tough to blame any player for trying to cash in when the chance arises, but Davis' stock couldn't have slid much further by going back to Arkansas for another season.

Barring another serious injury, the chances are strong that it would have turned out to be a net positive for him looking ahead to 2014. That's not the route he decided to take, though.

Hopefully it works out for him, because he's fought through a lot to get back on the field. At first glance, however, it looks like a mistake.