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.
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.
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.