Christmas break — time for fans to pump up for bowl games, and time for some college football players to think about moving up to the pros. The agreement between the NCAA and the NFL states that a player needs three years of participation in the college ranks before he can enter the NFL Draft. Redshirt years count, so a player can enter the draft after his sophomore season if he redshirted for a year.
Most fans anticipate Marcus Mariota opting to enter the draft this year. A fair assumption; several NFL bottom feeders are well into their “Suck for the Duck” campaigns. He’s reached the pinnacle of football achievement, the Heisman Trophy, and a national championship will just be icing on the cake. Joey Harrington and Andrew Luck stayed in college for an additional year to enjoy the collegiate experience and it didn’t hurt their draft position. But poor Matt Barkley tried the same thing, and due to Lane Kiffin’s ineptitude, Barkley’s draft prospects cratered. Mariota is a smart kid and though Duck lovers hate to admit it, it’s time for him to move up.
Another Duck player making noises of entering the draft is Arik Armstead. Armstead has the frame and talent that make NFL coaches salivate, but in some estimations he’s underperformed. This year, he’s 11th on the team in tackles and fifth in tackles for loss. Part of that may be the Duck defensive scheme. D-linemen fill the gaps and the linebackers make the tackles, but he ranks fifth on the team in sacks and we still haven’t seen any Haloti Ngata moments of the nose tackle chasing down a quarterback like a leopard downing a gazelle. Unless Armstead has a signature game in the playoffs, he may be well advised to stay a year to improve his draft prospects by showcasing his prowess on the field.
Byron Marshall has asked the NFL to evaluate his draft prospects. This might be a good move. He leads the team in receiving yards, and has the skills and mentality of a running back combined with soft hands. Some thought his move to the slot was a demotion, but he’s proved his worth to the team and as the spread gains traction in pros, his value to professional general managers has increased proportionally.
The deadline for juniors and seniors to declare for the draft is in January. Once they do, there’s no going back. We’ll have to wait until then to see who declares and who will be back for next year’s championship run.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline