I know on one level, this is coachspeak. I also know that Kirby Smart has a certain vested interest in players staying in Athens. Still, I do think there’s an interesting point to be made that this isn’t a normal year to decide to leave early for the NFL draft.
On the conversations with underclassmen regarding the NFL Draft…
“We gather information on these guys based on how they play, what’s going on, how big the pool is at their position. We try to be very honest with them, don’t get emotional about it. We’re not recruiting them like people say. That’s a decision that they have to make. What we want is to arm them with information, and I say the same thing every year, ‘We’re going to give you the information to make the best decision possible.’ Ultimately, you have to make the best decision possible. What value do you put on a degree? What value do you put on preparation, because 100 percent, the higher you get drafted, the longer you’re able to stay. So, ultimately, we want these kids to get drafted as high as possible. There’s value in coming back because they cannot develop in that league. There are no practice reps, there is possibly no Combine, there is no coming to OTAs and getting you better. You’re there, and you’re going to be good enough or you’re not. We can still develop players, and every general manager, scout you talk to says, ‘If you’re going to have someone grow and get better, they’re much better doing it in your organization than ours’ because they don’t have the freedom to get them better. We don’t have a lot of those conversations right now. We’ve had a few, but we don’t have those conversations because we want the kids to focus on being student-athletes and finishing out the season.” [Emphasis added.]
Evaluations are going to be a challenge, that’s for sure. Add to that every college player gets a mulligan for this season (hell, Demetris Robertson hasn’t ruled out coming back for another year), along with the possibility that it becomes possible in 2021 for college athletes to monetize their NIL rights and you hope these kids choose wisely, whichever way they go.