Why would top NFL Draft prospects play in 2020?


Athletes in every sport are putting themselves at greater risk of being infected by the coronavirus when they return to play. Even at the professional level, where millions of dollars are at stake and plans seem much more feasible, players are still deciding to opt out of the 2020 season. 

So why at the college level, where athletes are not given a single dollar of the millions upon millions they bring in for their schools and the NCAA, should they risk their health to play? Is the reward even close to the risk of being infected like many professional athletes already have? 

The college football season is right around the corner and at least one top-tier prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft has opted out. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley announced last week he will skip playing for the Hokies this fall and, instead, focus on turning pro. 

Here is former Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley’a announcement that he is opting out of the college football season to train and turn pro, sent to ESPN: pic.twitter.com/5j4FmQvGKy

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 29, 2020

Farley is the first real notable player to opt out that will likely be taken in the first round next April, but more could certainly follow... and they should. 

Sure, prospects at universities that have a shot at the national championship? You could understand a player trying to finish their college career by winning it all. 

For somebody like Farley who plays at Virginia Tech that has already put together a strong resume for NFL teams to evaluate? There isn't much more to gain. 

Often times for a draft-eligible prospect that is a preseason favorite to go high in the draft, more playing time in college can do more harm than good. Matt Barkley is on Line 1.

The new COVID-19 helmets also appear to be something that will negatively affect the play on the field. Multiple LSU players recorded a video of themselves trying on the helmets with face masks covered in protective splash guard shields, saying breathing through the helmet is like "breathing out of a Ziploc bag."

This might just be an overall point about college athletes leaving the "amateur" level as soon as possible any year with the injury risks that football presents, but 2020 provides an even greater risk that doesn't make playing seem reasonable without any sort of financial gain. 


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