We may not know which player will be selected at the top of the 2013 NFL draft, but we have a pretty good indication of who will garner No. 1 attention in 2014.
Jadeveon Clowney spent most of the 2012 season tossing offensive linemen around and mauling opposing quarterbacks better than anyone else in college football. He’s arguably the best college player in the country, and he has an excellent chance of being the first player selected in the 2014 draft—should he stay healthy.
The South Carolina defensive end saw firsthand what a major injury can do to a player’s draft stock. Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore was expected to be a sure-fire first-round pick this year, but a gruesome knee injury ended his season and put the future of his football career in jeopardy.
Lattimore is rehabbing, and he’ll likely end up on an NFL roster for the 2013 season. How effective he can be at the next level remains to be seen, though, and his path to the NFL is now a cautionary tale for players with hopes of making big money in the NFL.
While injuries have always been a part of the game, the risk of suffering a career-ending injury is too great to overlook. According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, Clowney isn’t overlooking anything:
Clowney is seeking insurance for his upcoming junior season. Richard 'Big Daddy' Salgado, the president of Coastal Advisors LLC, told FOXSports.com that 'a member of Clowney’s camp' inquired with his company about obtaining a policy worth as much as $5 million in case of a catastrophic injury that prematurely ends his playing career in 2013.
Clowney won’t be eligible for the NFL draft until next season—the merits of such a rule are best left for another day. The fact of the matter is this: Clowney is protecting his future by taking a proactive approach.
According to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, the maximum insurance policy a NCAA player can take out while still in school is $5 million. Cole quotes NCAA media relations official Chris Radford as saying, “This insurance program is in place to protect against a career-ending injury, but should not be confused with a 'loss of value' policy, which the NCAA does not offer.”
Radford brings to light another major issue to consider, but again, the NCAA’s gross disregard for athletes’ earning power is a topic all on its own.
The fact that Clowney is seeking out an insurance policy to protect against the results of a career-ending injury is a good sign for the future star. He’s preparing for his future—something some college athletes don’t learn the importance of until it’s too late.
Clowney has the potential to be a superstar at the next level, and a serious injury in the coming year at South Carolina could put his NFL future in jeopardy. According to Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports, some believe Clowney should completely forgo his junior season and prepare for a future in the NFL.
Which issue is more disconcerting?
While that option is available for a number of highly touted college players, it’s probably not the best option for Clowney. He still has to prove that he can hold up to the physical demands of a full career on the field. On top of that, no amount of off-field training will aid in Clowney’s preparation for the next step like playing in a live-game environment.
The options are limited for the star defensive end. He can either play this season and risk injury (like so many other collegiate athletes) or forgo his season and prepare for the uncertainty of an NFL career. Playing the 2013 season is the right choice for both Clowney and his team, though.
Clowney stands to lose out on millions of dollars if serious injuries were to derail his 2013 season. With a $5 million insurance policy, he would at least be able to protect his future livelihood. Not all college athletes show the foresight to protect their future, but that’s exactly what Clowney would be doing.