Will the possibility of a rookie salary cap cause SEC football players such as Ryan Mallet or Eric Berry turn pro early?
As we approach the close of the 2009 college football season, there is still no definitive word whether or not the NFL will institute a rookie salary cap for the 2011 NFL draft. Personally, I am on the side of the veteran players: there needs to be a rookie salary cap in the NFL.
NFL players make fantastic money, for that statement there is no rebuttal. For the jobs that the players actually do (long days from film, team meetings, to the practice field), the player's average salary is perhaps low ... especially given the amount of physical wear and tear that the players put themselves through. A career ending injury could be right around the corner for any given player, why not make the money while you can?
For rookies entering the NFL, exorbitant salaries are literally thrown at them. While it is not the players' faults that so much money is afforded them, many fans do not understand how an unproven rookie can possibly rate a huge multi-year multi-million-dollar contract.
If the rumors come to fruition, a rookie salary cap will be born in the NFL prior to the 2011 football draft ... 2010 would be the last year for NFL rookies to qualify for hefty paychecks.
Ryan Mallet is a freak of nature. At 6'7", the Arkansas Razorbacks' signal caller has fit like a glove in the Bobby Petrino system. Arkansas currently leads the SEC in scoring and total offense. Mallet leads the SEC in passing yardage, efficiency, and touchdown passes. While Mallet still has two potential years left in his collegiate career, he is eligible to jump to the NFL following this season (Mallet had to sit out a year due to transferring to Arkansas from Michigan).
Is Mallet ready for the NFL?
Earlier in the season, I said that Ryan Mallet was not ready for the NFL ... at this point, Mallet has almost proven all that he can at this level. I say almost because Mallet has shown that against NFL-type defenses (Alabama), he can be forced into mistakes ... in other words, as long as he does not get drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Mallet is ready for the NFL.
Mallet has all of the tools of the prototypical NFL quarterback: above average height, a strong arm, can seemingly make all of the throws, and make the correct reads. The looming question is Mallet another system quarterback that will flunk in the NFL? We have no way of knowing without seeing him on the grand stage.
In our estimation, and depending on how he performs for professional scouts, Mallet should do not worse than being the second or third quarterback taken in the 2010 NFL draft. If the salary cap is to be instituted for the 2011 draft, Mallet could cost himself somewhere in the neighborhood of $22 million ... that is a LOT of money to lose by simply waiting a year.
Will Eric Berry Return for his Senior Season at Tennessee?
The debate of who is better, Eric Berry or Taylor Mays, is over ... Eric Berry is the best safety in college football; perhaps since Ronnie Lott. Berry has a season of experience in the Monte Kiffin Tampa-2 defense and is a valuable commodity to any NFL defense.
The only reason Eric Berry should return for his last season for the Vols would be to capture the interception return yards record.
Eric Berry has absolutely nothing left to prove other than capturing the interception return yards record. While Berry is the epitomy of a team player, he is within 20-feet of breaking this record ... yes, it is that close. The question is: is breaking this record worth $16-$20 million to Berry? Yeah, we do not think so either.
Eric Berry has family to consider as well. As reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Eric Berry's father was laid off over a year ago ... the money an NFL contract would bring could help Berry's entire family immediately. Of any SEC football player that I have ever witnessed, Eric Berry is the 'one' ... the team player that every coach desires, but so few end up with. For every five-star safety that a coach can recruit, the Eric Berry in the class is one-in-a-thousand.
Do not be shocked to see both Ryan Mallet and Eric Berry declare early for the NFL draft sometime around the second week of January. While Mallet could fine tune his technique and his game, the cut in pay greatly out weighs the experience in this case. For Eric Berry, the only difference between being an NFL football player and what you are currently seeing on the field is a location and jersey. Both players are ready for the NFL and SEC fans have been blessed this season.
These two offensive players are simply the tip of the iceberg. We expect several key defensive players to bolt for the NFL following this season as well.