My free advice for Tajh Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – All along the message from the Tajh Boyd camp has been steady: Boyd is likely to return for his senior year at Clemson in 2013.

Tajh was set to visit with his parents to talk about his upcoming decision on Friday. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 15.

The Boyd Camp understands that because Tajh (6-1, 215) lacks prototype pro quarterback height (6-4), and hence, his draft stock is depressed despite All-American numbers.

They understand the ACC Player of the Year could have a potentially special senior season. Tajh has spoken to quarterbacks who bypassed first-round grades like Andrew Luck and Landry Jones in recent years, who returned to school in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They told him you only get to have the college experience once and it is special.

Tajh’s father told me again on Friday that his son would “most likely” be back for 2013 … but added Tajh is still “undecided.”

(Perhaps only Chad Morris visiting to the Anderson Regional Airport can make Clemson Nation more uncomfortable than pairing undecided with Tajh Boyd.)

Tajh told me last month he’d have to be a “top-tier” selection to consider foregoing a special senior season. My sense is he’ll be back. But I also think the likelihood has declined from 97 percent likely to return, to, say, 85.8 percent.

Why?

For starters, Tim Boyd said the Chick-fil-A Bowl performance boosted his draft stock. He said his son has been told he could now be a “top 60” selection in the NFL Draft, ranging from the late second- to middle of the third round. Though other analysts peg him as a mid- to late-round selection. Against LSU, Boyd showed, toughness, excellent footwork, the ability to go to his second and third progression all while avoiding turnovers against an elite defense.

Tajh Boyd improved in every area in 2012, but he can get even better 2013 … if he sticks around.

Moreover, the Boyds understand this is weak quarterback class.

And while sub 6-foot-2 quarterbacks rarely have success in the NFL, what Russell Wilson has done for the Seahawks can’t hurt Boyd’s draft hopes. And as we see more and more mobile QBs in the NFL, height will become slightly less important as these QBs create their own throwing lanes. RG3 and Aaron Rodgers are only an inch taller than Boyd.

Wilson was a third-round pick and shares similar attributes to Boyd in style of play, height and college production.

Still, with all that said, here’s some free advice to Tajh: stick around for your senior season.

*For starters, Tajh, look at how you improved your footwork, conditioning and mobility this year. How good could you be with another offseason to improve your arm strength and ability to go through progressions? I think with another year like 2012, plus another year to get faster, stronger more knowledgeable and you could become a sure-fire second round pick. Tajh you would simply become a better player by returning and there’s statistical evidence that QBs drafted as seniors have more success than those drafted as juniors.

I’ve heard the argument that you will be hard pressed to have a better statistical year, so you should turn pro. But pro scouts aren’t looking only at statistics: they are looking at throws, footwork and decision-making that translates to the next level, attributes that are not dependent on a surrounding cast. And as good as you were this year you can improve in all of these areas.

*There’s the money. Russell Wilson earned a $619,000 bonus as a third rounder – signing bonuses are the only guaranteed money in the NFL. As a mid-level second round pick, Alshon Jeffery received a $1.74 million signing bonus. Tajh, you only get one shot to for a NFL Draft payday, so might as well maximize it. I think you could double his money by returning.

*There’s also the legacy factor. Gene Sapakoff revealed his Clemson Mt. Rushmore earlier this week. He noted if you stuck around for his senior year he’s likely to bump one of the other four off for your likeness. If you returns for your senior year, you’ll be a top 10 Heisman candidate. You have 12 to 1 odds according to some sports books. What is a Heisman worth? In prestige? It’s invaluable. In quantifiable data: it’s estimated to be worth millions to a player of his lifetime. Baylor claims RG3’s Heisman was worth $250 million to the school.

*You are also the most invested quarterback Clemson has had in recent memory. That you would leave Clemson when it is on the verge of a 10 preseason poll position and seems to have its best shot at a national title since the 1980s, seems like a difficult thing to leave behind.

***

Clemson Nation, But I think you should be relatively confident your QB will be back,

This is what Tim Boyd told me on Nov. 21.

“I feel like any college quarterback should do three years (starting) before they come out,” Tim Boyd said. “Doing two years, I feel like you are doing yourself an injustice. When it’s over, it’s over. You do don’t want to leave with regrets.

“I feel like Tajh still has a lot to prove.”

This is what Tim Boyd told me yesterday: “nothing has changed”

NOW AS FOR DeANDRE HOPKINS …

I cannot give the same advice. I think he should turn pro.

Hopkins is a sure-fire second round pick and I could see him getting into the first round. Dabo Swinney says only first-round projections should fore go their senior seasons. I say any sure-fire top 50 pick, outside of some quarterback cases, should go.

If you’re in that $1.5 million bonus + range you don’t want to leave that on the table. Football is a risky game. See: Marcus Lattimore.

But the good news for Clemson is even if DeAndre Hopkins goes; the one area where there is depth on the team is wide receivers. Clemson could overcome a Hopkins departure.

3 thoughts on “My free advice for Tajh Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins

  1. I Agree on Boyd. He played great against LSU, but let’s remember it was only ONE game against a defense of that caliber. Next year, he can prove that he can play at that level against top tier defenses consistently. Play well against UGA, FSU, SC, bowl opponent, and I believe you are right, he’ll increase his stock significantly.

    Hopkins just has to ask himself if he wants to be a part of whatever the 2013 season may bring. I don’t think he can go wrong either way.

  2. In regards to Boyd, I’m not so sure the 2013 QB class is as weak as many think. Sure, there’s no elite No. 1 overall type talent but there are plenty of guys who could/should go ahead of Boyd: Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon. Aaron Murray could come out. Tyler Bray already has come out. Again, not saying these guys are guaranteed NFL starters but it wouldn’t be shocking if any or all went before Boyd.

    If the Boyds think the 2013 class is weak, then the 2014 class should be equally as weak, if not more so. I understand a lot can happen between now and then to change the rankings, but CBS Sports’ list (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2014/QB) isn’t very intimidating. Aaron Murray (if he stays), Zach Mettenberger, Logan Thomas (Did you know he’s the same size as Cam Newton? I’m rolling my eyes, ESPN), and AJ McCarron are all ranked ahead of Boyd. The guys behind him are even less scary.

    I don’t think there’s a question which draft he stands a better chance in. Stay another year, Tajh.

    And in regards to Nuk? You have to think Sammy’s going to be the featured receiver next year, given the fact that he’s eligible to go pro in 2014. And Dabo would need another CJ-Spiller-esque sales talk to keep Sammy unless his 2013 stats look more like 2012 instead of 2011. Hopkins’ only reason to stay is the college experience. On the football field, he has nothing left to prove.

    So I say see ya! Enjoy the money!

    • Matt,

      You’re right that there is a heavy volume of B-type QB prospects, which might actually cause some QBs to be drafted later than their projected draft position.

      For instance, if there is only one team that needs a QB in the second round and there’s three QBs with second-round grades, two of those QBs may fall. So it’s something for the Boyd Camp to think about.

      But there’s no elite QBs in this group, which means if you go and have a great offseason of workouts a mid-tier QB could perhaps rise to the top of the group and be drafted higher than rise postseason grade. It’s an interesting situation. Nonetheless, Boyd should stay, I think.

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