Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Arian Foster Is Actually Staying in School?

Junior running back Arian Foster, declared today that he would return to the University of Tennessee for his senior season. What? Really? Didn't he know that all the cool running backs are declaring for the NFL draft?

Foster obviously was the first running back in the long list of underclassmen to look at all the names already in the NFL draft, then look at who would be the top eligible backs for 2009, and make the brilliant decision to return to school.

While looking at the senior running backs available for the 2008 NFL draft, it isn't the strongest list in the world. With Mike Hart (Michigan), Chauncey Washington (USC), Tashard Choice (Georgia Tech), Yvenson Bernard (Oregon St.), Justin Forsett (Cal), Matt Forte (Tulane), and Tony Temple (Missouri) headlining the '08 running back class, I can't imagine too many teams licking their chops for a shot at any of them. Which would explain why the following running backs declared for the NFL draft:

Darren McFadden (Arkansas)
Felix Jones (Arkansas)
Jonathan Stewart (Oregon)
Rashad Mendenhall (Illinois)
Steve Slaton (West Virginia)
Jaamal Charles (Texas)
James Davis (Clemson)
Kevin Smith (UCF)
Ray Rice (Rutgers)

All of a sudden, the 2008 running back draft class is loaded. Which doesn't really make any sense why some of the guys would leave their name in the draft. With only 3 or 4 of those guys at the most being first round picks, why wouldn't you come back to school for your senior year? Guys like Charles, Davis, Smith, and Rice are going to have their work cut out at the combine in order to turn themselves from 4th rounders to 2nd rounders. I just don't see it happening. One or two might surprise some people, but every junior running back on that list has a phenominal body of work from college and probably has the talent to make it at the next level.

Why would you want to leave now for 2nd to 5th round money, if you could come back to school and compete against what will be a heavily depleted running back class in 2009. Headlining the running back class in 2009 outside of Foster, will be Brandon Ore (Virginia Tech), Marlon Lucky (Nebraska), Ian Johnson (Boise State), Javon Ringer (Michigan State), and Brandon McAnderson (Kansas). Also, Chris Wells (Ohio State), PJ Hill (Wisconsin), CJ Spiller (Clemson), Javaris James (Miami), and Keiland Williams (LSU) will be draft eligible juniors. Wells, Hill, and Spiller have a chance to be top picks, and possibly Ore, but I think any of those juniors have a chance to be one of the most coveted backs if they came back for their senior season.

I know all of these guys are going to college to prepare for the NFL and want to start making money as soon as possible, but it seems like the decision to not wait another year and cash in is like hiring Master P to be your agent. Several of the junior running backs are going to slide in the draft because of the depth at the position and several will find themselves wondering on draft day why they declared for the NFL draft to become at 5th round draft pick.

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