Andrew Luck announced yesterday that he has decided to return to college next season instead of going to the NFL draft, where he was in the minds of many, myself included, to be the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Now this decision is Luck’s, and from the sounds of it he took his time and talked with family and friends and did what was best for him.
In all honesty, going back and getting a college degree from Stanford University is never a bad option. Football is a tough sport, and many athletes don’t have long careers, some out of the NFL before 30, and need to find ways to pay the bills after their final snap. It will be nice for Luck to have that degree from Stanford after his NFL career has concluded.
Myron Rolle was another college football player who recently chose academics over professional football. He decided to accept a Rhodes scholarship and study at Oxford for a year before entering the draft this past season. Rolle was drafted in the sixth round by the Tennessee Titans and spent the whole season on the practice squad.
It is commendable that he wants to finish his degree, but not entering the NFL draft this season may be end up being a big mistake for Andrew Luck. By not entering, he has taken on a lot of risk that could affect his professional football career.
Luck was considered the best prospect this season, and there is very little that he could prove by going back to college next season, so unfortunately all he can do is drop his draft value. The biggest thing that could affect that has to be if he sustains an injury next season. Football is a violent sport, and quarterbacks in particular have that target on them; defenders are looking for any opportunity they can get to hit the quarterback.
Sam Bradford was considered one of the top QB prospects before the 2009 NFL Draft but decided to return for his senior season and ended up hurting his shoulder. Now Bradford was lucky in that he was still the No. 1 draft pick for the Rams in 2010, but if he sustained that shoulder injury later in the season and was not healthy enough to participate in pro days for NFL teams, there is no telling how far he could have fallen in the draft and the type of contract he could've lost.
Another reason Andrew Luck should have entered the NFL draft is the uncertainty over Jim Harbaugh and whether he will be returning to Stanford next season or heading to the NFL.
Brian Brohm was in a similar situation back in 2007. He was coming off a great season for Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals and was considered one of the top prospects for the draft. However, he decided to return for his senior year, but then Petrino left Louisville to go coach the Atlanta Falcons, and Brohm did not have a strong senior year.
In the 2008 draft, Brohm slipped all the way to the second round to the Green Bay Packers. He struggled to see the field and spent the majority of his career on the practice squad with them. He was claimed by the Buffalo Bills in 2009, where he has served primarily as the backup over the last year and a half.
Brohm has not been able to recover and find an opportunity to get on the field regularly, not to mention the contract that he passed up by going back for his senior year.
The final reason Andrew Luck should have entered this year is that the 2011 NFL Draft is still under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and there is no rookie salary cap. Now commissioner Roger Goodell has already stated that he wants to see a rookie salary cap, an idea that is already in place in the NBA, put into the next CBA.
If this is the case and Commissioner Goodell gets what he wants, there will be little negotiating for Luck and his agents with whatever team drafts him in 2012, and he might not get the type of contract that the top pick will in this coming draft.
Now, even though Andrew Luck has returned for his senior season, I still believe he has all the tools to be an extremely successful QB in the NFL, and I will be rooting for him to get through this next year because I want to see what he can do in the NFL. However, the risk of going back for another season is just too great with a number of variables that will be working against him.
In the end this is Andrew’s decision, and I am sure he has thought about all the things I have just mentioned. I guess all that is left to say is good luck.