Running back Ezekiel Elliott announced his presence with authority over the last month, rushing for 696 yards and scoring eight touchdowns combined in Ohio State’s 3-game run to the national championship, starting with the Big Ten championship game.
The impressive showing has many believing Elliot has a bright future in the NFL.
But while players like teammate Cardale Jones are weighing whether or not to enter the NFL draft, Elliot cannot. To be eligible for the draft, a player must be three years removed from high school and Elliot is just a sophomore and cannot turn pro until the 2016 draft.
This has led some, including Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, to say Elliot would be better off quiting college football and skipping the 2015 season to save himself for the 2016 NFL draft.
Whether or not Elliot would even want to skip his junior season is unknown. But the fact remains, as a running back, Elliot plays one of the most dangerous positions in a dangerous sport and the shelf-life for an NFL running back is very short.
Florio compares Elliot’s situation to that of former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore who was projected to be a first-round pick before a devastating knee injury. Lattimore recently retired having never played in an NFL game.
Elliot can protect himself with insurance and recent changes to NCAA rules allow Ohio State to cover the cost of the insurance. Lattimore stands to collect $US1.7 million from his policy, in addition to a $US300,000 signing bonus he got after being drafted. However, that pales in comparison to the $US8.3 million contract he was projected to sign before the injury and the unfulfilled dream of playing professional football.
Clearly the NFL draft rule, designed to protect players, hurts those that are risking the most. It seems crazy, but for some players like Elliot, it may be better to just drop out and wait.
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