College football players declare early for NFL draft

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College football players declare early for NFL draft

Maxwell W. '20, Writer

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At the end of each season,  college football players who are two years removed from high school  and wish to further their career in the upcoming season must decide between playing their bowl games or declaring early for the NFL Draft. This year Ohio State University (OSU) defensive end Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones skipped the 2019 Rose Bowl against Washington University for the draft. Bosa is projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and Jones at No. 29, according to ESPN.

For a college football player, health is a huge priority. They spend the majority of their time in the weight room, on the field and getting treatment before or after a practice or game. During the injury treatment process, football players get taped or have ankle or leg braces for that injury. However, treatments which trainers and physical therapists give do not work immediately, making  college football players miss playing time on the field. However, for football players who are projected to play in the NFL, they have an option. They can either play through their injury in college and risk ending their career or prepare for the NFL draft.

“I think that college football players should skip their bowl games to protect their draft value,” Nick S.’22 said.

Football players always want to avoid injury, but especially during the time of the NFL combine which takes place from Feb. 26 to March 4. In the combine, college players are tested on their 40-yard dash time, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone and the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles. All of these drills are important for NFL scouts to gauge the value  of different prospects for their franchise.

 Football players skip their bowl games to preserve their health for the combine. This means players can work out with their trainers earlier, not have future injuries on the field, and have conversations with NFL owners.  Former Los Angeles Chargers Defensive back Derwin James skipped his bowl game because of the combine and so he could avoid further injury on his knee. According to, James ran a 4.47 second 40-yard dash, completed 21 reps of bench press at 225 pounds,  had a 40-inch vertical jump and a 132-inch broad jump. These are above average stats for an NFL prospect, and as a result James was the 17th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. In his first season, he had 105 tackles and three interceptions, according to

“I think it is up to the individual player if they should or shouldn’t early for the NFL Draft. They should understand the best situation for themselves,” U.S. History teacher Daniel Harris said.

Another reason why college players are skipping their bowl games is for the signing bonus players get for declaring early. According to SB Nation, 2016 draftees Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey both did not play in their bowl games. Because they skipped their bowl games, Fournette received $27.1 million, including a $17.1 million signing bonus, while McCaffrey received $17.2 million with a $10.7 million signing bonus. Both of these players received millions of dollars for not playing in their final bowl games.

Those who are okay with this idea argue if a player was injured during their bowl game and was projected to be drafted, they could lose thousands of dollars. For example, current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith tore his ACL during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, which costed him $7 million of his original paycheck from the NFL.

The final reason why college football  players are leaving early is to improve their combine skills. Every football player has strengths and a weaknesses. One example was Deion Sanders who ran the fastest 40-yard dash in combine history with a time of 4.27 seconds. However, he did not participate in the bench press competition at the combine. While defensive tackle Justin Ernest recorded the most bench press reps at the combine with 51 at 225 pounds in 1999, he did not have a contending 40-yard time. But both players took different routes in the NFL. For Sanders, he became the 5th pick in 1989 while Ernest was undrafted free agent in 1999 who played no regular season games because of his speed and agility. Every college football player thinking of the NFL tries to put in the work, and by not playing in their bowl games, they have more time attending their weaknesses.

“If it’s for an injury then it is fine to skip a bowl game, but for the draft, I’d say go and play because the entire team and the fans are counting on them to participate,” Ben W.’20 said.

College football players skipping their final bowl game is happening more than in previous years. Whether it is risk of injury, improving combine skills or they just want to leave, players are moving on from college much more quickly. They are making an individual decision for themselves. Analysts or coaches can persuade them as much as possible, but in the end, it is up to the player in terms of skipping their bowl game.