The NCAA's harsh reaction to Ohio State players Terrelle Pryor, Daniel "Boom" Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas ' foolish decisions to pawn game-worn gear and memorabilia for cash and tatoos could push the five players into an even worse decision -- declaring early for the NFL draft.
I certainly understand the argument for the players to enter the draft early. After all, taking five games away from them next season leaves them precious little time to boost their draft stock or resurrect whatever legacy they've tarnished at Ohio State.
The harsh reality, however, is that these fives Buckeyes simply aren't ready for the NFL, especially quarterback Terrelle Pryor .
Pryor, of course, is the man most expected to leave early following this ruling. Yet, he's the one who has the most to lose by coming out before he's ready. While scouts can't ignore his 6-6, 235 pound frame and wonderful athleticism, they also won't ignore his struggles reading defenses, tendency to throw late over the middle and, most of all, his marginal accuracy.
There may be a team willing to gamble on his spectacular upside (especially considering the success Michael Vick is having this season) in the first round, but a Top 32 pick is no guarantee for Pryor despite his obvious talent and hype.
Should he return, however, with Andrew Luck, Cameron Newton and Ryan Mallett likely already in the NFL, he'd enter the year (albeit five games late) among the top quarterback prospects. Finishing his senior season out strong and perhaps adding a game by attending the Senior Bowl and he'd be in prime position for a top pick in 2012.
While he'll likely be the least hyped of the five players in this ugly story, the most pro-ready of the group is actually left tackle Mike Adams . The 6-8, 305 pound Adams emerged as a force this season, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors in his first full season as the Buckeyes starter. Entering the year, however, he was not lock to win the starting job at all. Like Pryor, there is no denying Adams' upside, but with his balance, hand technique and awareness all question marks, he should return to iron out the wrinkles to his game. If he were to come out this year, considering the talent of this year's OT class, he'd likely be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Returning, however, he'd rate among the top senior offensive tackle prospects in the country.
Posey and Thomas, strictly from a scouting standpoint, should return, as well.
The one possible exception is the running back, Herron. The reason he should consider leaving school early has nothing to do with the suspension and doesn't mean he's a spectacular prospect. In fact, if he comes out, I'll be surprised if he's drafted earlier than the 3rd round. However, running backs can only absorb so much punishment and with 454 "touches" already, scouts know what he can do.
I don't necessarily believe that Pryor, Adams or the others will heed my advice. The reaction from most of us in a similar situation as the one they find themselves in is to think, "the heck with it, I'm going pro." It is the reaction that some writers would take . It certainly is the reaction that most 20 or 21 year-olds with an inflated perception of their pro stock might take.
But in reality, these Buckeyes, while very talented, have a ways to go before they're ready for the NFL.
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