Simmons ACL tear should cause top prospects to reconsider the pre-draft process

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Top draft prospect Jeffery Simmons tore an ACL while engaging in pre-draft workouts. Which raises an important question for all top draft prospects: Why do it?

Even though Simmons was banned from the Scouting Combine due to off-field issues, he would have been expected to engage in the events of the Underwear Olympics at his Pro Day workout, and he presumably was engaged in training aimed not at preparing to play NFL football but to generate the best possible numbers when running, jumping, starting, stopping, etc. while doing the things that a draft prospect is expected to do.

In recent years, some top prospects have begun to skip meaningless bowl games and to decline invitations to engage in private workouts. At some point, the best of the best need to consider boycotting all of the pre-draft events, resting on their college performances and trusting the general consensus that they’ll be among the top players taken.

Scouts and coaches will strenuously object, but what will they do? If they don’t draft the player, one of their competitors will. And the prospect will be protected against the risk of plummeting draft stock that comes from a serious injury that would wipe out his rookie year.

Wherever Simmons would have been drafted, he’ll now go lower than he would have gone. Which means he’ll make less money on his rookie contract than he would have made.

It’s one thing for prospects who need strong pre-draft performances to improve their draft position to fully embrace and participate the process. It’s quite another for those whose skills and abilities already have earned them a place among the best of the best to accept the risk that comes from training to do a bunch of things that have no relevance to their football futures.

Good luck convincing these guys to opt out, however. They’re young and strong and they regard themselves as invincible and impervious to significant physical harm. The serious injuries that they haven’t suffered throughout highly successful football careers happen to others, not to them. Until they do.

While it won’t be easy to convince the best prospects to say, “The hay’s in the barn. I’m not going to participate in your made-for-TV dog-and-pony show,” it takes only one or two to take a stand and still get drafted early to persuade others to do the same. Just like it did with guys skipping bowl games and private workouts.

For the players, it’s simply a matter of good business. And these budding professional athletes need to start making good business decisions well before they’re officially in the pro football business. Simmons surely wishes he had. The question becomes whether his misfortune will inspire others to consider declining to spend two or three months doing a bunch of things that have no bearing on football in order to ultimately be drafted in the same spot they would have been drafted in the first place.

14 responses to “Simmons ACL tear should cause top prospects to reconsider the pre-draft process

  1. Absolutely right Mike!! Players must become way more business oriented like the teams. Say you will play where they pay you the most or offer the most potential including money, talent, coaching, culture, etc. Just admit it. That you are in pro sports to make the most money possible in a short period of time to set yourself up financially. I would applaud all players. The NCAA and NFL are just using the players as brands for profit. Then toss you aside. Nothing personal, just business.

  2. The flaw in this argument is assuming that “the hay” is ever actually “in the barn”. Unless you are a QB expected to go at the top of the draft – and those guys already do limit their combine testing – not testing could hurt your draft stock. Training for the combine IS training for your NFL career, because it positions you to get the best initial payday possible.

  3. Considering your most relevant experience is in the legal field, you get mighty opinionated for someone who doesn’t have millions on the line to run around. You always come at this like some concerned parent. Wish you would have at least been a player agent or something, but nope, just some dude who started a website who can’t even use the words NFL in the title.

  4. .
    cuz it exposes dudes made of paper.
    stop whining about injuries. the acl tear was going to happen.
    dudes get injured in practice too so stop practice?

  5. You still have to work out hard.
    Chance of injuries still exist.
    Top guys have skipped the combine and pro days every year…
    I remember Ditka used to question the validity of virtually any and all player evaluation that wasn’t an actual game.

  6. There’s also the school of thought that the time and effort a player puts into these cone drills, etc actually takes away from the specific training needed for OTA and Training Camp…yes, the overall fitness level is maintained or even increased, but training for the Combine is different than training for Camp.

  7. The bottom line is that if your going to play any sport your going to be at risk for injury. That includes working out, practice, etc. This whole idea that these athletes are somehow victims is laughable. There are insurance policies available for these situations.

  8. I don’t know how any self-respecting general manager could draft a player who doesn’t want to compete. Regardless of the talent level, selecting a player who demonstrates that they value security over the willingness to compete should be a major red flag.

  9. Draft Insurance. University (for bowl games) & NFL (for combine or any team workouts) should insure them for lost earnings based on their average draft projection, for significant injuries that drop them out of the draft, like an ACL or worse.

  10. Your missing a major point. By being drafted in rd2 instead of rd1 he bcomes a free agent a yr earlier. He was projected to go in the 12 to 20 range. Last yr tgat was about 10 to 14 million. Hed make that up in the first yr of his second contract ( his fifth yr instead of 6th yr)

  11. Ummmm…he got injured working out, not “performing .” If athletes don’t work out and just wait to get drafted, they likely won’t make the roster cuts nor beat out lower drafte/undrafted players who have been putting in the time.

    Elite players are going to work out or they won’t be elite.

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