Ezekiel Elliott should shut it down in 2015

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Running back Ezekiel Elliott has shown that he has an NFL future.  To best secure it, he should say farewell to college football in the present.

In order to properly ingratiate itself with the custodians of the free farm system known as college football, the NFL prohibits players from entering the draft until three years have passed since their high school class graduation.  Elliott finished high school in 2013; he can’t be drafted until 2016.

With nearly 700 total rushing yards in three high-stakes game played on a big stage, Elliott demonstrated the ability to compete in the NFL.  Given the physical demands of the position he plays, he should avoid absorbing further punishment — and losing additional knee cartilage — by playing football for compensation far less than the value he has brought to his school, the Big 10 conference, and the NCAA.

The issue has come up in recent years with players like Jadeveon Clowney and Jameis Winston, both of whom arguably made it to the top of the draft board only two years removed from high school.  Staying in college entailed not only a significant injury risk but also the reality that another year of play and scrutiny may have resulted in the player’s stock falling.

If, of course, a player like Clowney or Winston ever decides to skip that third year after high school, fans, media, and scouts would be aghast, calling him selfish and stupid and everything but a young man possessing a keen sense of business and the guts to indulge it.

To be sure, questions over whether the player truly “loves football” could result in a plunge in draft stock.  For a player like Elliott, who already has a limited ceiling based on the position he plays, taking a year off wouldn’t entail the same financial risk.  And any possible impact on his draft positioning after a year away from the sport would be offset by avoiding the risk of a Marcus Lattimore-type knee injury or some other impairment that limits Elliott’s eventual NFL career.

Football fans won’t like the idea of players making decisions that advance their own interests, because it limits the pool of talented players we all can enjoy watching on our increasingly large flat screens as they assume significant physical risks without fair pay.  But if Elliott was your son, brother, cousin, nephew, grandson, godson, husband, fiancée, boyfriend, or friend, the best advice would be to tell him to retire from college football and begin the process now of getting ready for the 2016 draft.

76 responses to “Ezekiel Elliott should shut it down in 2015

  1. If he refuses to play, he’d most likely lose his scholarship and be forced to drop out of school. Where would he go to keep in shape and further his training? It’s easy to say he should shut it down, but what do you propose he do during his year of waiting for draft eligibility?

  2. Isn’t this the reason why CFB players can get insurance, so they can keep playing until they’re draft-eligible or until they choose to declare without risking their financial future?

  3. Worked for MIke Williams at use and Maurice claret at osu!!
    A year off does the player wonders!!!

  4. florio that is one of the best pieces i’ve ever read on here. zeke could actually be the one who finally gets players some compensation. good job!

  5. You made the same argument for Clowney 2 years ago, it was a ridiculous argument then and is a ridiculous argument now. Running Backs are one of the least valued positions in the NFL, teams are routinely taking late round picks and UDFA and turning them into serviceable players. If Elliott doesn’t play next year NFL teams likely would forget him and/or question his desire. If he plays he likely goes in the first two rounds (again RBs aren’t valued highly anymore) and gets a decent payday. If he shuts it down he gets passed by a bunch of guys and likely becomes a late round pick.

  6. Neither Elliot nor Jones should play another snap without being compensated.

    The two of them helped generate record viewing numbers for ESPN and risk damaging their future far exceeds any loss from not playing for free.

  7. That’s a wonderful idea Florio. I sat out a year and everything worked out beyond my wildest dreams.

    Maurice Clarett

  8. You’re absolutely right of course but no doubt you’ve angered the horde of apologists for big business pretending as if he should be grateful for a mere scholarship despite the fact that his set of skills brings far more revenue to his school and conference that more than offsets the cost of a scholarship. Wake up people, these institutions are run by ruthless capitalists that would not offer scholarships if they weren’t receiving the tall end of the stick and reaping piles of cash many times the cost of the scholarships they award.

  9. it is a difficult situation for sure. i say he sits out and signs on for a reality show tracking his training and workouts preparing for the 16 draft. hype would be massive by then.

    im only half joking.

  10. Couldn’t agree more. In a situation like this, they should refer to the NFL draft advisory board and find out where said player would be drafted. If they conclude he’s a 1st/2nd round talent, then give the school an insurance policy that would pay out what the average player, at that position, earns in an average career.

    There is zero reason for this kid to take anymore abuse. Marcus Lattimore, Willis McGahee, Melvin Bratton are all examples of kids who saw injuries affect their draft status, and ultimate earning ability.

  11. He should declare for the draft, have the NFL reject it, and then sue the league & Union over it. While I agree with the intent of the rule (see NBA’s success with straight out of HS players last 20 years) it seems to be a rather arbitrary rule. Why 3 yrs & not 2 or 4? If they could get that rule overturned it would create a market for the best players & force the colleges’ hand towards further compensating the players.

  12. if zeke didn’t play i would bet there’s an agent or some type of management company that will get him some cash til he is eligible for the draft. or what about the cfl?

  13. Ridiculous. Obviously if history tells us anything, it’s that the NFL loves football players that haven’t played football in over a year. It’s worked out for the guys who have tried it so well. Oh, wait.

  14. It is a tough spot, darned if you do darned if you don’t things.

    Luckily for him, some schools have been getting into the habit of paying for an NFL prospects insurance to cover against injury.

    Ohio State will probably at least consider that.

  15. He should be allowed to play in the NFL. Most underclassmen are not physically ready for the rigors of the NFL, but there are exceptions, and Elliott is one of the exceptions.

  16. tjacks7 says:
    Jan 13, 2015 8:27 PM
    Ridiculous. Obviously if history tells us anything, it’s that the NFL loves football players that haven’t played football in over a year.

    remember robert smith?

  17. A single season of a rookie contract is more than enough to pay for the cost of a degree should the player choose to return to college at any time afterward. School will always be there, the prime years of your athletic abilities in life won’t be.

  18. It was okay for the NBA for decades to draft kids right out of high school… aka Lebron James. No years removed from high school graduation.

  19. I was just thinking today, why hasn’t a minor league type of football league been started for post high school players that aren’t draft eligible? I’m sure if you offer a one or two hundred thousand per year contract they could lure plenty of kids away from college football. If they don’t make the NFL they’ll still have made plenty of money to get an education.

  20. lol I’m sure he appreciates the concern, but there’s heismans to be won and dynasties to be built. He ain’t shuttin nothin down.

    BlockONation….Breaking ‘Bama

  21. Couldn’t agree more. He already helped bring his semi-pro team a championship, setting records along the way.
    He won’t be forgotten, and he won’t have a chance to earn a big contract for another five years anyway given his position. Selfish people sitting in front of TVs (Americans) will no doubt disagree, but this is the same group of sabermorons who brought the world Blake Bortles as a top 5 value compared to Teddy Boy the Vikings are Stupid for spending a first round pick on someone who only weighs 215 Bridgewater. If football fans were smart they wouldn’t be football fans.

  22. If he was my son I’d give him the exact same advice I have already given my son on many an issue. Live true to yourself, don’t live in your fears and don’t live with regret about what could have been.

    Even if he is a NFL success, football will be a small part of his life. And the richest contract in the world won’t make you a better man or even allow you to fulfill your every dream, never mind your material ones.

    If he wants to be a broken man, yes, he should “quit” and hope for the best. If he wants to be a free and great man, he should keep going and live his best.

  23. I agree!!! Scholarship-only proponents are jerks because they could not live on $5.48 per day, which is what the $2000 stipend is.

    No one above poverty lives above $5.48 per day. A scholarship is nice, but if that and a $2000 stipend is all that is being given and the current rules are still in place this is discrimination towards the poor.

    This is deprivation and no scholarship-only proponent has been deprived enough to know what these kids go through.

  24. gerald1966 says:
    Jan 13, 2015 8:30 PM

    remember robert smith?


    Robert Smith played football at OSU in 1990, quit football and ran track in 1991, then returned to football at OSU in 1992. The was drafted after that season. Not really the same thing…

  25. The NFL needs to get rid of the 3 year rule. If you’re good enough to play on Sundays, then you should be able to.

    The free farm system that is the NCAA would be upset, but they’d survive. You don’t hear the NCAA complain when the best basketball players jump to the NBA after just 1 year.

  26. Make a special exemption to the 3 year rule for RB’s and turn it into a 2 year rule OR let them hit free agency a year earlier than the other positions

    Fact: RB’s decline statistically after the age of 30.

    IF a RB plays well he will hit FA between the ages of 25-27 and get one shot at a big contract and then that is it. Every other position in the NFL gets TWO if not THREE shots at the mega-deal well into their 30’s.

  27. If Elliot sits, where does he get drafted? 4th round, as opposed to possibly first round if he plays (especially if he follows the trend of most guys who sit out a year and run a poor 40 time pre draft). It is a valid point that he can get an insurance policy. Also, what is the difference in rookie contract between the 4th and 1st rounds:

    Ha Ha Clinton Dix was drafted in the 1st round by the packers and his total deal is 8.3 million with a 4.4 million signing bonus and 7.6 million guaranteed. Carl Bradford was drafted in the 4th by the pack and his deal was for 2.64 million with a 429k signing bonus and nothing more than that guaranteed.

    He could just as easily blow out his knee the first day of minicamp his rookie year after sitting out a year. By my count, he’d potentially be out 7 million dollars plus.

    We get it Florio. You hate college football players playing for free. You should avoid using that to give bad unsolicited advice to a 20 year old.

  28. Really? I can we all can understand the risk but guys like him have no recourse. His bigger issue is, running backs are not a premium any more. Rare they get drafted in round one and command the big money! He will get drafted and make some money and thats it!

  29. I would rather see a rule you need to be on the team two seasons!
    One season is too disruptive! Recruiting cost money! Could you see your entire freshman class bolt to the NFL! After two seasons, you got some use, tit for tat!three years after high school is too punishing

  30. If he doesn’t play next year who will draft him period? Running backs aren’t exactly high draft picks anymore and not playing for a year can only drop him down the chart.

  31. RB’s dont get drafted in the first round anymore (unless ur an idiot like the browns or worse yet the colts)…serviceable RB’s are a dime a dozen, so lets start the conversation at him being a potential 2nd round pick….

  32. Classic lawyer mentality. Florio is right, of course, if money is all that he is playing for. However, I think you have to factor in the experience of it all. What price can you put on a year like he will have at OSU next year? To be treated like royalty everywhere you go. To be with your friends and teammates. Would any of those guys speak to him if he quits on them? Wouldn’t you want to look back on the best years of your life and have memories and bonds with that school and those people for the rest of your life? What price do you put on that? Worst case scenario, he blows his knee out and destroys his career in the NFL. You don’t think some big wig OSU booster is gonna set him up with some cush job? C’mon. The biggest mistake he could make is to cut ties with the school and put a paycheck in front of glory, commradery, and competitive spirit. Besides, with sports medicine these days, there are fewer and fewer career ending injuries. Low risk, high reward.

    Unless you believe that money is the almighty goal. If so, listen to the lawyers.

  33. He should be able to go pro now, this is a bad rule that puts players that are ready at unnecessary risk of injury. Some players will think they are ready and declare too soon but half they players drafted now don’t pan out after waiting 3 years.

    I don’t see why just being drafted should end their amateur status either. Why can players in baseball and hockey get drafted right out of high school and still play college sports and football players can’t?

  34. Believe it or not, some people still like actually playing this sport and enjoying doing so.

    The fact that the NFL continues to become more and more about cashing in is making it harder to watch every year, unless you’re all about drama and referees.

  35. Watching this Zeke kid play to me shows his body is ready for the NFL. Seems like he’s got his head screwed on straight as well. Wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to sit out.

    For those continuing to beat the drum for the players to get paid more, who is paying for the Dre Beats and all the tatoos? This stuff isn’t cheap but apparently more valuable then spending the money on food?

  36. Florio just made the heads of every person involved in the NCAA on the business end of things practically implode.

    They must be terrified of a player doing this, because as soon as one does it more will follow.

    I do think you underestimate the effect of being out of football for a year though. They would lose the spotlight they had at the end of their second year, and be just as likely to drop in the following year’s draft as if they didn’t play as well in a 3rd season of college ball.

    Not to mention being out of football shape. It will take a lot of willpower and discipline that many young men don’t have to maintain their strength and conditioning.

  37. Why take 300 carries for no money? NCAA and schools rake in billions on the labor of young athletes and pay them peanuts in the form of room, board, and maybe (if they actually graduate) an education in basket-weaving.

  38. I am reading a lot of comments about the 3 year rule being unjust and challenged legally. Whether you like the rule or not, the NFL owners are not that unlike any other employer; for better or worse, they have collectively decided this-arbitrary though it may be- requirement for entering the draft.

    I feel that the arguments are also completely dependent on position. A running back wants to get in the league ASAP, because by 30 they may be done. A quarterback, ideally, takes much less abuse and can play into their late 30’s if they are good enough; but no team wants to draft a total project only to have him develop right as his rookie contract expires.

  39. I would never encourage someone to drop their education unless he had an immediate opportunity to jump into a promising business venture.
    But since Zeke plays for Urban Meyer, he probably has never seen the inside of classroom anyway.

  40. Fascinating….hate to say it, but it’s true-money is truly the controlling interest…. It trickles all the way down to the high school level. There’s 2 kids in the school in my town who had Div. 1 college scholarships signed & committed before they started senior year. Their senior seasons, they “played not to get hurt”, and it kinda showed….Do I blame them? Not really, but it stinks for the sport…

  41. I was the best running back in the world when I was a kid. So good in fact that instead of risking an injury while playing high school football, I didn’t even try out for the team. I did the same thing in college. I’m 38 years old now. I’m starting to think that I’m not going to get drafted.

  42. Did you not see the holes Elliot was running through? No cuts, just straight downhill untouched until 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

    He’s good, but I’m not sure he was even the best rb prospect in the championship game. The last three games may be the apex of his career. It happens.

  43. It doesn’t matter if he blows both knees out, the 49ers will still draft him…


  44. This dude wasn’t even a top three running back from the Big 10. Melvin Gordon, Abdullah, and Coleman. 5 years from now he’ll be just another back up in the league.

  45. Sure–instead of staying in the limelight in an already low RB market by continuing to play for a national title contender, he should simply disappear off the grid altogether.

    Why continue to raise your stock by possibly being a Heisman contender, when you can simply make everyone forget about you by taking a year off?

    Good lord….

  46. Yeah, he is going to sit. Because doing something he loves, the fulfillment he gets from playing, the camaraderie he has with his teammates, the lovin he gets from the ladies on campus as a big football star…that’s so easily dismissed by cold reasoning.

  47. Zeke should do what he wants to do. Just don’t take the advice of Florio who is only trying to 1) stir up controversy, 2) get a killer RB away from Ohio State. As far as compensation goes, yes…let’s get these cats compensated in some way, even and across the board with no out bidding for talent. And lets not stop there…let’s let 18 year olds out of high school go to the NFL so that they can get crushed and ruin their lives, like what’s happening to a lot of basketball players that use to get drafted out of high school. GO BUCKS!

  48. What kind of society we are in when we convince people to take the easy way out and quit?

    This is pathetic and the OP and all other adults are wrong for advocating this.

    You learn from wins, you learn from losses. There’s no harm in failing if you understand what made you fail.

    This country. Sheesh.

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