When Todd Gurley was suspended earlier this season, there was a school of thought that it was actually a blessing in disguise for the Georgia running back.
He was acknowledged as college football's top running back at the time. It didn't appear he had much more to prove to NFL evaluators, and if he had to sit out the rest of the season, it would mean less wear and tear on his body, which is always welcomed by a rusher.
Sadly, the worst fears of Gurley and those in his camp were realized last week, as he suffered a torn ACL in his first game back from suspension.
Now, the junior RB has a decision to make. Will he enter the NFL draft after this season and hope a team bets he'll make a full recovery or return for one more year with the Bulldogs?
To me, it's pretty clear what his decision should be, but here's a look at some pros and cons for each path he could take.
If he enters the draft ...
Pros: This one is fairly obvious -- he'll have a contract with an NFL team and all the luxuries that come with it.
Cons: The NFL Scouting Combine medical evaluation of the injured knee could hurt Gurley's stock. Maybe doctors will find the knee is more damaged than initially thought and his rehab will take longer than expected. He might not be taken as highly as he would have if he had entered the league healthy.
If he returns to Georgia ...
Pros: It would be a chance for Gurley to prove he's healthy and still able to dominate. The conventional wisdom is that you're stronger the second year back from ACL surgery than you are in the first. He would be able to work out the kinks in college and enter the league as a guy who appears to be just hitting his prime. He could show everyone that his knee is stronger than ever and continue to show expansion in his game.
Cons: He'll be taking the risk of potentially suffering another injury, and he won't have a salary to show for it.
The best call for Gurley
I think Gurley has already presented the best case he can to the NFL by how he's played throughout his college career, and I'll be stunned if he decides to come back for another round at Georgia.
He would be taking an awful risk by taking a damaged knee back to college instead of the NFL. It might be that his stock isn't damaged much by an ACL tear in a time where we've seen NFL running backs thrive after returning from such an injury. So, there's no telling whether another great season at Georgia would do much to enhance his stock from where it will be this offseason.
There are plenty of unknowns in Gurley's case, to be sure, but, from my vantage point, I don't think he should give much consideration to returning for another year at the college level.