With the rash of recruiting scandals involving Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo at the forefront of the national consciousness, it is time for us again to revisit why we make some aspiring NFL players jump through the hoops at the college level. Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams both found out the hard way that the NFL is as tough in the courtroom as they are in between the white lines, but should the fresh Commissioner take a fresh look at this situation?
The NFL purports that they are keeping the quality of play higher by not allowing players that haven't completed three years out of High School. Most teenagers aren't ready for the physicality on Sundays, but the Texans' Amobi Okoye showed that it is possible to excel at so young an age. Smart teams won't draft players that aren't ready to play.
One way around the problem of quality of play would be to grant each team a 54th roster spot, while keeping the active roster at 45. That would allow for each team to keep another "project player" if they so wish., with out the risk of floating them on the wire before signing them to the practice squad.
In order to keep the NFLPA and the NFL owners happy, there would need to be some salary restrictions on these players. Perhaps there would be a lower league minimum for those players that wouldn't meet the current age requirements.
The increased freedom would be beneficial to the University set and to the NFL set alike. Colleges would be able to put more focus on academics and less emphasis on babysitting athletes that only wish to jump from the NCAA to the NFL. The NFL would get to groom prospects in a pro-system while keeping them out of trouble with the presence of a professional support staff and veteran leadership.
One might ask, if it isn't broke, why are we fixing it? The question we ask is, what if the NFL was even better?