Where are they now
The NFL season has almost come to an end, so you die-hard LSU fans might be asking, "What the heck happened to all those underclassman that entered the draft this past year?"
If your memory is a little fuzzy, let me remind you that LSU experienced a mass exodus after their bowl loss to Clemson.
It yielded the hasty retreat of 10 young Tigers forgoing their senior seasons in Baton Rouge to take their chances in the professional ranks. So, where are they now?
Barkevious Mingo was the Tiger drafted the highest this past April. He was picked sixth overall by the Browns.
Mingo had a strong start to the season but has leveled off ever since. He has four sacks for the year.
Eric Reid was the next Bayou Bengal drafted at 18th overall by the 49ers. Like Mingo, Reid immediately broke into the starting lineup.
He has had the best season of any of the Tiger rookies that left early this past year. So far, Reid has snagged three interceptions and is a serious candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But besides Reid and Mingo, the rest of the LSU rookies have struggled--excluding Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off of the team last year.
Linebacker Kevin Minter was drafted in the second round (No. 45 overall) by the Cardinals. Minter was injured for the first part of the year but since he has returned, he has only seen the field as a special teams player.
Defensive end Sam Montgomery was a third-round pick by the Texans. He's not even in the league right now. Not having played one snap, Houston cut him midway through the year for breaking unspecified team rules.
Bennie Logan was also drafted in the third round. He played sparingly for the Eagles during the first part of the year but just recently, he broke into the starting lineup. He has only 14 tackles and two sacks for the season.
Cornerback Tharold Simon wasn't drafted until the fifth round. He has not played a snap all year for the Seahawks after being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
His teammate Spencer Ware was brought to Seattle with a seventh-round pick. Before being placed on Injury Reserve, he had three carries for 10 yards.
Lineman Chris Faulk went undrafted before being signed by the Browns. He has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list ever since.
Michael Ford was undrafted and signed by the Bears--where he has been a special teams player.
And finally, punter Brad Wing shocked everyone and decided to come out early. He went undrafted and was later signed by the Eagles but cut during the preseason. He is currently out of the league.
The moral of this story is that some guys just aren't ready for the NFL. They would be much better served staying in school for their senior seasons and improving as players.
Look at the list of the guys I just gave. Only two of the 10 that left early were truly NFL-ready. Reid and Mingo were first-round draft picks, have started since day one and have played well.
You can't really say that about any of the other early departures. Only one other player in Logan was able to earn a starting spot, four haven't played a down all year and two are not even in the league right now.
I understand Ware and Ford flying the coop. With the emergence of Jeremy Hill last year, they saw the writing on the wall. They knew they were in for a big drop-off in carries in an already crowded backfield.
So, they decided it was better to get paid to be a bench-warmer rather than getting nothing for two and three carries a game. I don't blame them.
But a lot of these other guys were full-time starters. If you're not projected to be drafted until the later rounds, why not come back and start instead of being reduced to practice squad and special teams players?
If you're projected as a first or even a high second-round pick, it's smart fiscally to enter the draft. You have to strike while the iron's hot and take the money because you could always get hurt your senior year--causing your draft stock to plummet.
However, if your draft stock is already on the decline, waiting a year to enter makes more sense.
If you go in the third round or later, you'll be making the league minimum. Injuries hurting draft stock is no longer a concern. So, what's the big rush? That same amount of money will be waiting for you a year later.
And by staying your senior season, you have a great opportunity to improve as a player--which in turn might actually improve your draft stock. And the higher you go in the draft, the more money you make and the more likely it is that you'll get playing time.
But then again, in this day and age, patience doesn't always translate to prosperity. It's the "faster is better" generation.
Cash seems to rule everything around us; people seek get-rich-quick schemes and guys with colorful blazers filled with dollar signs sell us books that are supposed to turn us into millionaires.
So, I guess it's only natural for these poor college kids' view of the big picture to be dwarfed by the lustrous allure of the almighty buck.