INDIANAPOLIS – Making the decision to enter the NFL Draft early can have an even greater impact on a player’s career – and life – than selecting the university or college that he is leaving ahead of schedule.
That was never more apparent than this year, when a record 98 players were granted early entry and joined those invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which began last Wednesday and concludes Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
|TAKING THE EARLY NEXT STEP|
A record 98 players opted for early entry into the NFL Draft this year and you could field a pretty decent team from the group:
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The reasons for early entry range from the perceived selfish (money) to the selfless (helping a family that has helped you). And, for every success story (Seahawks All-Pro
There’s also a rookie wage scale now, so some players were asked during their stints in the media center whether being one year closer to the big payday of a second contract was a motivating factor in their decision to leave school early.
“Of course,” Alabama cornerback Ha Ha Clinton-Six said. “I wanted to make sure I was ready to go to the next level, make sure I had the first-round grade. And then I feel the rest of it comes with that.”
Scott Crichton provides the flipside motivation. The defensive end from Oregon State and Foss High School in Tacoma admitted that he “fell in love” with the staff, players, community and Corvallis during his recruiting visit and then time there.
“It’s a small town,” Crichton said Sunday afternoon while sitting at a table in the media center. “I don’t like that big-city life. I’m more of a relaxed guy. So the small town was a perfect environment for me.”
So why leave early?
“I did it for my family. I love my family,” he said. “I’ve taken this responsibility to take care of them.”
Because of everything they did – and continue to do – to take care of him; even if he is 6 feet 3, weighs 273 pounds and is ranked as the fourth-best defensive end and 42nd player overall in this underclassman-laced draft class by NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang.
“I’m the baby, but I wasn’t the spoiled one,” he said with a laugh.
But he is the one who would like to share the spoils of what’s to come with his family.
“My parents are getting old and I want them to retire and just stop working,” Crichton said. “I just did this for my family. I was going to go back to college, but just to see my family struggle – we didn’t have much growing up – and to see my family struggle, I wasn’t OK with that.
“So I had to do something and this is one of the greatest opportunities for me to take care of my family.”
“I didn’t even get a grade evaluation,” he said. “I just made my point that I just wanted to go to the league, and at the same time I wanted to take care of my family. But at the same time, I want to be one of the best defensive ends in the league.”
And that would afford him the opportunity to take even better care of his family. What would that mean to him?
“Oh it would just mean so much to me because my parents have taken care of me since Day One,” Crichton said. “And to do this for them it’s just, I don’t know, I can’t put it into words.”
That’s OK, because his actions are saying it all.