The news came down the line today that the Pac-12 would be postponing fall sports to early 2021. Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, when addressing the media today, made sure to let everyone know that this is a postponement and not a cancellation. With the football season moved to 2021, what does that mean for the seniors and the other draft-eligible players?
If there was a regular NFL season, then that would mean that the NFL combine would be right in the middle of the 2021 football season. With the traditional NFL draft event calendar and the college football season now moved, athletes would be preparing for the NFL, competing at the NFL combine and trying to help their team win all at the same time. What about the January Senior Bowl? Individual pro days on campus? This is going to be something that needs to be sorted out, alongside the NFL, as they figure out the draft preparation calendar and events so that they don’t overlap with the college season. This then also pushes the question on to elite juniors and all seniors- if it’s better for them to play the spring season or go right into draft prep.
“No different than the bowl games. We have played in two bowl games. Basically two of our first-round picks didn’t play. You can anticipate that.” Edwards said to the media.
Of course, Edwards is referring to now-New England Patriot N’Keal Harry and now-49er Brandon Aiyuk. Participating in a spring season though could increase your stock if you felt you had more to prove to NFL evaluators as Edwards goes on to explain,
“I do think a lot of guys will play. If you don’t feel good about your season last year, and that’s what they are looking at, you have the ability to perform and upgrade your stock.”
Edwards expressed he would understand that. The athletes that want to play in the Spring to increase their daft value then have to ask themselves if their body and mental state is ready to take on a year like 2021. Going from playing college football to the NFL all in the same calendar year is like driving an automatic car your whole life then thrown into driving a stick shift on the freeway while all alone. It’s one thing to go from a shortened college football season to another college season with a little rest in the middle (like freshman and sophomores will do), but to go from college to competing against the best of the best is night and day. These are grown men in the NFL, the pace is different, the size is different, the whole scene is different. How would these college athletes be ready? How would their bodies hold up? For Jack Jones, it’s one thing to face USC’s wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown; it’s a whole other to have to take on the likes of Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas a few short months later.
A couple of names come to mind with regards to having their sights set on the NFL, those are Frank Darby, Merlin Robertson, Chase Lucas and Jack Jones. When scouring the internet for 2021 mock NFL drafts, I was able to find all of their names on lists plus one other player, granted there are 1,000+ mock draft sites, and I did not hit them all, but the ones I did hit were the big ones like 247Sports, WalterFootball, CBS Sports and so on. All of these sites had at least one of these names on their list. CBS Sports was the one site to mention safety Aashari Crosswell. These young men have to ask themselves if they’ve done enough to prove their worth and no statement says it as well as Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator Antonio Pierce, when he says this is “Frank Darby’s year to become Batman.”
Being listed on a mock draft site is not the end-all be-all certainly for if or when a player will be selected, but it’s a good gauge at who from ASU has done enough to garner more attention than others. Is their stock high enough though? That remains to be seen.
These are all questions now that are left to be answered by the player- is it worth it to risk playing the season to increase the stock? Or is it smarter to sit it out altogether and prepare for the NFL draft and be ready for the next season of their life. Do we have players who play in the first few games to display their abilities to scouts and then have them opt-out mid-season to eliminate further risks if they feel they’ve shown enough?
Lots of questions to sort through… Only time will tell.