|Injuries to top QB prospects Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow could have repercussions in the 2010 NFL Draft.|
The 2010 NFL Draft is shaping up to be the "Year of the Quarterback", and the flood of signal-callers entering the league will likely be keyed by a number of underclassmen opting to bypass their final years. While the mass exodus of junior prospects has become the norm recently, this year's migration might be tied directly to the spate of injuries to top quarterback prospects in recent weeks.
Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Florida's Tim Tebow have suffered injuries this season. While their dings are not expected to affect their long-term futures, the prospect of having their draft status altered by an injury could make several highly rated underclassmen passers toss their hat into the NFL ring.
Washington's Jake Locker, Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, Ole Miss' Jevan Snead and Bradford are a few of the young signal-callers with tough decisions to make at the end of the college season, and their choices may alter the top of the draft. Bradford is still viewed by some scouts as the best quarterback prospect in this year's class after being widely hailed as the potential No. 1 overall pick last year had he entered the draft. His decision to stay in school might have cost him more than $41 million in guaranteed money (Matthew Stafford signed a six-year, $78 million deal with $41.7 million in guarantees as last year's top pick), and his shoulder injury could cause NFL teams to downgrade him before next spring.
Whereas Tebow has other obstacles potentially obstructing his path to the first round, the former Heisman Trophy winner's recent concussion provided a scare that other potential hopefuls are sure to notice. The threat of taking a career-altering hit is always a concern, but the latest developments have now brought that concern to the forefront of every NFL prospect's mind.
Another factor that could play into the decision of junior quarterbacks is the early success New York Jets rookie Mark Sanchez is enjoying this season. Sanchez entered the 2009 draft against the wishes of USC coach Pete Carroll, who thought the quarterback wasn't ready for the NFL with only one full season as the Trojans' starter. However, Sanchez is off to a fast -- and somewhat flawless -- start with the Jets, and his lack of collegiate experience doesn't appear to have hindered his development.
Underclassmen contemplating making the jump, however, should consider the cases of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. The rising NFL stars stayed through their senior seasons, and the extra year of collegiate experience enabled them to make quick transitions to the pro game. Both logged a significant number of starts during their collegiate careers (Ryan had 34 at Boston College and Flacco 26 at Delaware), which proved to be invaluable experience for both quarterbacks.