Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield vs Media: Real Hate Against Oklahoma QBs

NFL quarterback Oklahoma Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield NFL Charley Casserly

It’s not a surprise when Big 12 quarterbacks make headlines in NFL discussions, but for Oklahoma quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, there’s an NFL trend that’s becoming quite alarming. When former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield declared for the NFL Draft, he was met with heavy criticism. Some analysts were discussing the drama surrounding […]

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Dakota Allen’s senior leadership should have answered questions ahead of NFL Combine

Dakota Allen Texas Tech NFL Draft

Former Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen’s perseverance through adversity has landed him a spot in the NFL Combine.

Dakota Allen’s career at Texas Tech began as a promising one. The Red Raiders needed stability at the position, and he was, by all assessments, one of the cornerstone players in the 2014 recruiting class. Allen held offers from 12 schools, but it became clear that Texas Tech was where he wanted to play, and so, the three-star linebacker enrolled, with experts lauding his talents up and down the board.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2016 when Allen and two other Texas Tech football players were arrested on charges of burglary and gun theft, several speculated on whether this was the last we’d see of Dakota Allen.

Charges were dismissed, and the rest of that story is history, but it’s safe to say that Dakota Allen has created a legacy of an athlete who was able to make a triumphant return to fulfill the promises he had made to Texas Tech years prior.

Coming off his final and senior season at Tech, Allen has now accepted an invitation to participate and compete in the biggest job interview in his entire life, the NFL Scouting Combine. While this isn’t exactly uncommon territory for Texas Tech players, it is on the defensive side of the ball, making the stakes even higher, and the urgency for Red Raider scouts to build a true defensive arsenal under first-year head coach Matt Wells.

For Dakota Allen, the last few years have been an opportunity for reinvention, but you couldn’t watch a Texas Tech football game telecast without color commentators mentioning Allen’s backstory. Now he gets the opportunity to answer questions from all 32 NFL teams and set the tone for how he’ll be perceived and remembered in the National Football League.

After an injury last season, Texas Tech message boards were almost convinced Allen would sit for the rest of the season, but his commitment to the team quelled most of the rumors and should set the tone headed into the Combine.

The Texas Tech defensive unit as a whole last season made a few improvements, which included finishing No. 26 in the nation in red zone defense. With the NFL adapting to faster-paced offenses, Allen could be particularly useful in red zone scenarios. Allen is 6-1 and 235 pounds, which is slightly shorter than the prototypical NFL linebacker, although, that shouldn’t hinder any abilities.

At the end of Allen’s junior season, many wondered if he would leave Texas Tech and declare for the NFL Draft early, however, his decision to stay should have put to rest all fears from NFL personnel as to whether he had matured since the incident, and was ready for the big stage.

He’s cerebral, explosive, and a natural leader, so in terms of measurable statistics that scouts expect to see from Draft picks on Day 1, Dakota Allen fits the bill. Whether he’d be a Week 1 starter in the NFL is another story, as he needs to work on eying his targets with greater efficiency, and he can’t be afraid to hit or move around the field. If Allen can become more confident in his skills and stay healthy, he has a tremendously high ceiling in the NFL and could provide much needed veteran leadership down the line.

One thing that’s certain, however, is that when he was given another chance at EMCC, he learned very quickly things that take some athletes an entire lifetime to realize and grow from. With how Dakota Allen has learned to tell his story, NFL scouts and general managers can expect to interview a humble guy from Humble, Texas with a track record of working his tail off for people who believe in him.

Want More? Check Out: Dewan Hernandez’s Reinstatement Case Exposes NCAA’s True Purpose

NFL Draft: Why a Team May Take a Chance and Draft Kyler Murray

Don’t be surprised if you see an NFL team take a chance and draft Kyler Murray in the 2019 NFL Draft. Would an NFL team really draft a player who was a top-ten pick in the most recent MLB Draft and got a cool $4.66 million signing bonus? Why would a franchise use a draft pick on a player who may not be playing for them?

The entire NFL Draft is one big gamble

The entire process is a crap-shoot. Each pick is a lotto ticket; you’ve got a chance to hit on a franchise changing player. You could either get a complete bust, hit for a solid player, or you could hit the jackpot and win an All-Pro Hall or Hall of Famer.

NFL teams have been preparing for the 2019 NFL draft since the last pick was announced in 2018, if not sooner than that. Most, if not all, of them, are looking for the best player available in this draft not playing this sport right now. Like Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham who were college basketball players.  It’d be unconventional for an NFL team to draft Kyler Murray who will be playing in an MLB team’s minor league system. But unconventional thinking is what often leads to brilliance.

When/if a team does take Murray, he’d be under contract with the A’s. So he would need clearance to sign with an NFL team. Next, if a team drafted Kyler Murray and wanted to hang onto him in the hopes of a return to football, they’d have to sign him to a rookie contract. If Murray didn’t sign by the 2020 Draft, his rights would become draft-eligible once again.

Like Bo, Kyler Knows

Look at Kyler Murray’s lone season as the starting quarterback of the Sooners, and you’ve seen a TON of brilliance. He led Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma offense, which ranked #1 overall in the nation. Murray showed he is arguably the most electrifying athlete in all of college football. He did all of this on the gridiron AFTER hitting .296 for the Sooners baseball team, adding 10 HR, 47 RBI, and ten stolen bases. He can hit, play solid defense, absolutely fly, and he’s got a cannon for an arm. He’s an ideal fit in center field while batting at the top of the order. Think Mookie Betts for the Boston Red Sox.

Kyler Murray Wouldn’t Be the First

This situation played out in 1986-87 with Auburn legend, running back Bo Jackson. Like Murray is now, Jackson was a top baseball prospect while also a top football prospect. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft and wanted Jackson. But, Jackson told Tampa Bay he didn’t want to play for them, wouldn’t sign with them. Jackson believed they intentionally got him to break NCAA rules which made him ineligible to play football at Auburn. So, he said he would play pro baseball if they selected him. Tampa Bay still went ahead and gambled on Jackson changing his mind, only to see him do exactly what he said he would, which was not sign and play pro baseball. The Buccaneers had nothing to show for their first overall pick in 1986, and the Raiders ended up drafting Bo Jackson in the seventh round of the 1987 Draft.

Another similar gamble would occur about a decade and a half later with Drew Henson. In 2001, he left college before his senior season, to sign a 6-year $17 million contract with the New York Yankees. Henson was most likely going to be a first-round pick if he were in the 2002 Draft, with there even being serious talk of him being a potential number one overall pick. In 2003, the Houston Texans used a sixth-round pick on the former Michigan quarterback and current struggling New York Yankees third base prospect. The Texans later flipped Henson for a third-round pick in a deal the following year, sending Henson to the Dallas Cowboys, who were searching for Troy Aikman’s replacement still three years after his retirement. That gamble, unlike for the Bucs, paid off for the Texans.

On the flip side, there’s one gamble that followed the same model just in reverse order. That would be Jeff Samardzija, a current major league pitcher and former two-time All-American wide receiver for Notre Dame. He was on track to be a first or second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. But before any team in the NFL had a shot at a selecting Samardzija, he pulled his name from the Draft after signing with the Cubs in January of 2007. Today, Jeff Samardzija is in his eleventh season in the major leagues and according to Spotrac, has made approximately $88.6 million.

The predicament Kyler Murray finds himself in is a difficult one. There are guaranteed contracts in baseball and less wear on the body. Would he give up baseball for a chance to be ‘the next Russell Wilson,’? Wilson still gets the best of both worlds. Every offseason he attends spring training for the team that owns his right. This year, after having his rights traded to the New York Yankees he even played in a few games.

Kyler Murray is electrifying on the football field, and he’s good enough at baseball for a team to bet almost $5 million on him. The Oakland A’s have said they drafted Murray and signed him to the contract they did with the understanding that he’d play one last season of college football before turning his attention to baseball full-time. In a recent piece by Julian Williams of The Athletic, Murray was, when asked about his future in baseball and football, quoted as saying his “future is already decided as of now” but that he “would love to play (both professionally) if that was possible.”

We Know What Kyler Wants, as of Now

Teams have four months or so to decide whether or not to spend a pick on Kyler Murray. Murray, if selected in the fourth round, he’d be looking at a four-year deal worth (approx) $3-4 million and about a $700k signing bonus. In comparison, his signing bonus in baseball would be close to seven times as much as it would be in football. That’s a lot less money for a lot more damage to your body. But an NFL team could strike gold in Murray, and the possibility of gold could be too much for a team to pass up. Murray’s immediate future seems to be on the baseball diamond. But that is, in the words of Kyler Murray himself, “as of now.”

College Football Players Are Not Obligated to Play in Bowl Games

Will Grier Bowl Games Sitting West Virginia

Why do fans expect an “amateur” football player to put his career and livelihood on the line for what amounts to an exhibition game? On Saturday, West Virginia University announced that starting quarterback Will Grier will not be participating in the Camping World Bowl game against Syracuse. His decision not to participate in bowl games to focus on preparation for the NFL Draft did not sit well with some college football fans. He joined the list of more than a dozen players who will skip their teams’ bowl games.

Grier made the following statement informing fans of his decision.

Fans have no right to be upset with unpaid “amateur” athletes for choosing to further their professional careers.  After all is that not what a major part of the college experience is all about, learning to make tactical business decisions to be better professionally.  Grier did just that.  He made a tactical business decision to protect his potential professional career by not subjecting himself to injury in the bowl game.

Furthermore, Grier is slated to be a first or second-round draft pick. Would it really make sense for Grier to jeopardize his NFL draft potential by playing in a bowl game? The answer is simple. No, it would not make sense.

The Minimal Reward is Not Worth the Risk

The risk of injury in bowl games simply is not worth it for a college football player with a high NFL Draft potential. Bowl participants receive what amounts to very little for their participation. Participants receive a bowl gift and bragging rights for a year. Bowl gifts are nice and fun. However, they are minuscule when compared to the salaries and bonuses that coaches receive for bowl participation. This is especially true for a player like Will Grier who has already accomplished the pinnacle of what college sports and “amateurism” is supposed to be about – degree completion.

A degree is extremely valuable and can lead to a better life. Receipt of scholarship money to acquire a degree is very valuable as well.  However, a scholarship often does not equate to a college athlete’s full market value. Why should a player with the potential to finally receive their full fair market value for their athletic prowess risk a potential career ending injury in a game that is not going to compensate him up to his full value? Again, the answer is simple. No athlete should take that risk.  No fan should expect them to.

College Football Players Should not be Vilified for Opting Out of Bowl Games

Suiting up for any game carries a risk of injury. However, dissenting fans argue that it is only one more game, so the players should play. While it may only be one more game, the risk of injury is ever-present. In fact, the risk of injury is so prevalent that Grier is not the only player sitting out of a bowl game this year. In the past, players like Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt have suffered a serious injury which impacted their draft position.  Specifically, Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary, N’Keal Harry, Greedy Williams, and Grier’s teammate Yodny Cajuste are among those that have opted out of their respective bowl games this year to prepare for the NFL.

Some fans are equally upset by these decisions.  They argue that such players are being selfish and are quitting on their teams. However, that is not true. The players who opt out are not doing it to quit on their team. They are doing it to protect their future career prospects so that they may finally receive market value for their talents.  Despite what fans may think, college football players are not obligated to risk a career-ending injury for their viewing pleasure. Accordingly, players who opt out should not be vilified for their decision.

Players are not the Only Ones who Opt Out; Coaches do Too

Players are not the only ones who opt out of bowl games.  Coaches opt out as well.  Every year, several coaches leave their teams to take jobs at other schools in the midst of bowl game preparation.  Coaches are allowed to make business decisions for the betterment of their careers, just as players should be.

Whether people want to acknowledge it or not, college football is a business.  Therefore, all parties involved should be allowed to make decisions that are in the best interest of their careers. This freedom of movement may upset some fans. However, players and coaches should be able to make whatever decision is best for their career.

Tyrann Mathieu declares for the NFL draft: Bad Move

When I woke up this morning I saw the news that former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu intended to declare for the NFL draft in April. I was saddened because although I do not know him personally, his story hits close to home. Mathieu garnered national attention after being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and earning the nickname “honey badger”. He showed an affinity for causing turnovers at LSU. Now, he has made his biggest turnover of all. Declaring for the draft is another bad decision in a long line of bad decisions. His football seemed bright until LSU announced he had been dismissed from the team in early August for violations of team rules. At this point in time, Mathieu had many options and plenty of time to rehab himself and his image before taking his talents to the NFL. He could have transferred to another D-1 school and sat out a season or transferred to a lower division and played this season. He chose door number 3, which was for Mathieu to check himself into a substance abuse rehab center. This was a good move for him personally, and for his image. It is not clear how long he was in the program, but he did re-enroll at LSU to start classes for this 2012 school year. Mathieu appeared to be picking up the pieces and he might possibly make a return to LSU next season. Then in October he was arrested on marijuana charges along with former teammate Jordan Jefferson. I am not an expert in drug rehab, but I have seen a few close friends/family members “fall off the wagon”. From my experience I knew him returning to Baton Rouge for school was a bad idea. He needed to stay in rehab longer and to leave LSU and get in a new environment to start over.

Now, Tyrann Mathieu has announced he will be foregoing his remaining college eligibility and entering the NFL Draft. This may prove to be his worst decision of all. He most likely will not be drafted by an NFL team unless it is a very late pick and the team won’t be on the hook for a lot of money. Mathieu was already an undersized corner with average speed and cover abilities. Then you add that he was kicked off the LSU football team for drugs violations in August, and subsequently arrested on drug charges in October. If you were a general manager for a team would you take a chance on him. Not likely. The NFL offers more free time and access to all your vices, and the money to afford them. Every year we hear stories of professional athletes without a documented history of substance abuse struggle with addiction. Josh Hamilton, Stanley Wilson, Barret Robbins Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and the list goes on and on. Declaring for the draft appears to be a way for Mathieu to escape the problems plaguing him in college, but in all likelihood things will get worse before they get better. How will he deal with the disappointment of going undrafted of being drafted late? How will he deal with injury or being cut? Now, how is a kid who obviously cannot handle staying sober in college supposed to make it in the NFL?

In no way am I saying Mathieu is not worthy of a second chance and should never be picked by an NFL team. I am saying he needs to go back to rehab and get his life together, then go play football in college for season (not near LSU), then declare for the draft. He would give himself the best chance to succeed personally and professionally. I have seen teammates and friends struggle with the disease of addiction and the toll it takes on them physically, emotionally, and financially. If you are not mentally ready to handle the life associated with professional sports, you are a tragedy waiting to happen. The toughest things for professional athletes to do is admit they have a problem. They are strong, and can do things physically that men only dream about. The thought of not being able to control a problem alone is unfathomable. Mathieu must admit to himself he has a problem and that wholesale changes must be made for him to be successful. Everybody loves a comeback story, and a story of personal triumph so I wish Mathieu well. But, as it stands right now, after a year out of football coupled with his issues, Mathieu would be fighting for a spot on a NFL roster. I hope I am wrong, but the most likely ending for the Tyrann Mathieu story will be something like Onterrio Smith. A young man with an abundance of talent that loses his way and his dream of football glory.

Do you see any way Tyrann Mathieu can be successful in the NFL right now?