The decision of whether to leave school early for the NFL or not can be a difficult decision for many college underclassmen. With much to consider—the college teams’ success, relationships, classes, the college atmosphere and of course the almighty dollar—many kids are truly on the fence.
Some kids make the obviously correct decision. Others make a hazy decision which can only be proven right or wrong in time. And then there are some who make bonehead decisions which never make any sense.
There are a few of the latter in this draft class—just as there always are. Let’s take a look at those (mind you, underclassmen still have five days to declare, so it’s possible there will be additions to this list).
David Bakhtiari was a surprise player to leave Colorado after his redshirt junior season. Not many draft analysts expected him to pack his bags and leave Boulder this season.
Bakhtiari said he had been considering it prior to head coach Jon Embree being fired, adding:
the evaluation came back and had me in the second- to third-round range for a pick, but I also received some good feedback from Steve Marshall [Colorado offensive line coach] and Coach Embree, who spoke with several of his contacts from around the league, and they thought I might even go a little higher, and that helped, too.
That all sounds fine and dandy. What many prospects and fans don't understand is that said contacts only take a cursory glimpse at a player when making such proclamations.
Hype is good if you're determining to come out as an underclassmen. Bakhtiari didn't have that to his advantage. And assuming he returned to school for his senior season, a first round grade would not have been out of question.
Chris Faulk was the other offensive tackle to announce his intentions which surprised people (via ESPN). As with David Bakhtiari, talent isn't the issue. In Faulk's case, he left school early after having played in just one game in 2012 before tearing his ACL.
The ACL injury makes his decision more than questionable, since players with that injury generally take a full year to recover to adequate health to compete in a football game. He is currently sitting at approximately five months, meaning he will not be able to workout for NFL franchises prior to the draft.
Teams will also have to go off sophomore film, something they'd rather not do.
As a result, Faulk's stock will fall significantly and he will be passed up by fellow offensive lineman who perform well in pre-draft workouts.
If he had returned to LSU, he could have made the Louisiana Tigers a better football team and raised his draft stock. That's a winning combination.
Alvin Bailey is currently projected by nfldraftscout.com as the 111th prospect. The Arkansas redshirt junior guard took advantage of a change in coaching staffs, essentially that of Bobby Petrino to Brett Bielema.
Had he stayed at Arkansas, he would have had to learn to become a more physical run blocker. It would have been a difficult transition, but also could have aided his draft stock in 2014.
David Amerson had a horrific start to the 2012 college season on national television when he was burned deep repeatedly by Tennessee's trio of talented receivers.
Amerson's draft stock never recovered throughout the 2012 college football season. The result is that he currently lies in the draft weeds as a third round prospect.
There's nothing wrong with that, unless you're a player who began the year projected as a first round player. Going back to North Carolina State for his senior season would have allowed him to make his way back to the top of draft boards and show off the talent that made him a potential first-round pick headed into 2012.
Raise your hand if you'd ever heard of Mike Edwards before!
Edwards is a junior (hence the reason he's on this list) cornerback from Hawaii. And that's about all anyone knows about him.
He's not anyone's list of draft-eligible cornerbacks. And honestly, being from Hawaii doesn't help his cause any. At least, if he'd waited until his senior season, his play could have possibly allowed him to make a name for himself.
While Mike Edwards was announcing he was turning pro, Steve Williams, apparently had an epiphany. "If Mike Edwards, someone nobody has ever even heard of, can turn pro, so can I."
At least Williams showed glimpses of potential in his three seasons in Berkeley.
Nonetheless, as of now, nfldraftscout.com has Williams listed as a seventh-round/undrafted corner. When seventh-round and undrafted are used in the same sentence, a player should know better than to leave school.
My personal hate assault on corners continues and ends with Stanford corner Terrence Brown. It's quite simple with Brown.
Much like the previous two, he is not a top corner in this draft. Maybe, just maybe, with pre-draft workouts and the like, he can gain ground and rise to a mid-round pick.
But a player cannot count on that at this point in the process.
Had he returned to Stanford, which has now become one of the top-10 football programs in America, he could have at least raised his stock to a mid-round level, if not higher, with a great senior season.
Instead, he will leave Stanford unsure of his football future. Let's hope he got all he could out of that Stanford education.
The final player on this board is a player I have a fairly intimate knowledge of, as a Tennessee football fan. Bray possesses all the tools anyone would want in a quarterback.
Laser rocket arm (sound familiar?), big body, smart kid, played in a pro-style offense and two and a half seasons in the SEC (the closest thing a college player can get to the NFL without actually playing in the NFL). That is the pedigree of Tyler Bray.
Still, one more season for Mr. Bray would have given him a chance to become one of the finest pro prospects at the position.
Peyton Manning returned for his senior season at the same school 16 years ago. Bray made what promises to be a fatal decision 16 years later. He simply is not ready.
Nor are any of these prospects.