Friday, January 07, 2011

Luck o'The Draw?

In news that casual or local sports fans might have missed, QB Andrew Luck announced he was passing up being the presumptive #1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft in order to return to Stanford for his junior year (and to complete his degree). Not unprecedented, but not anything that impacts the Ravens. Or does it...

Not this year. The Ravens won't be picking in the top 20 this year, and they are not in the market for a QB. But lost in all the noise about his decision is what else this could mean.

I am not a guy who will fault a player for leaving school early in order to get paid. Be honest: if someone came to you after your sophomore year in college and offered you a LOT of money to do what you were in school to do, would you grab it? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. But taking out of the equation the fact that many college athletes are from middle class or lower economic backgrounds (like the rest of society), a guaranteed payday is hard to turn down.

50 thou a year will buy a lot of beer...

I am also not a guy who will blame someone for deciding that you do in fact only get to be young once (and if you don't think that Luck has some serious BMOC cache to cash in on you are fooling yourself), and if you want to kick back and get the full college experience, more power to you.

But there are serious changes on the NFL horizon. You may have heard about the "no CBA as of March" thing, and the quite real possibility of a lockout and the first work stoppage in the NFL since 1987. One of the probable outcomes of the new labor agreement (whenever it gets settled) will be a rookie salary cap. It makes sense to save more money for veterans who have earned it, and it could keep these protracted hold outs for top picks from happening (for all its faults, the NBA has THAT right at least). Luck is pretty much guaranteed a top 5 pick next year even if he gets injured / falls off the face of the earth (see: Bradford, Sam), so there is no incentive for him to come out early if he wants to stay in college. The team w/the #1 pick in the 2011 Draft (and one in need of a QB) is the Carolina Panthers, a team currently w/out a head coach and w/a lot of issues besides who will be throwing the ball next year. Add to that the fact that there is no idea what the rookie salary cap will look like, or if there will be any loopholes that can be exploited, and staying might just be the prudent course of action (and no one can accuse Stanford kids of being dumb).

The question is if this will become a more commonly occurring phenomenon as the new labor agreement and the repercussions from it shake out, or if this is just a kid wanting to be a kid for another year. Could college studs look at the draft order and decide that they want to wait for a year to see if they have better luck in who's going to pick them? Is "I'm staying in college" going to be the new "I won't play for them" (thanks John Elway, Steve Francis, and Eli Manning for being whiny, petulant jackwads)? I think it very well could be.

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