In the coming weeks, Bryce Love will face a difficult decision between staying at Stanford for his final year or entering the NFL draft. Whatever he chooses, Stanford fans will support his decision, but I’m not alone when I say that I hope he stays.
This time last year, Christian McCaffrey faced the exact same dilemma, and ultimately, he chose to forgo his senior year for the NFL. His decision paid off. He shot up the draft boards, and the Panthers selected him with the eighth pick and paid him $17.2 million over four years. I mean, how do you turn down that much money?
Bryce Love, however, is not the same person as Christian McCaffrey. First, Love’s academic aspirations are lofty. The heisman finalist currently studies human biology and plans on becoming a pediatrician. It’s a difficult major, yet Love finds time to dedicate himself in the classroom, and leaving for the NFL would slow down his lifelong goal.
Currently, CBS ranks Love as the sixteenth best player available in this year’s draft. Last year, that draft slot earned almost $12 million, which is still a substantial amount but not as high as McCaffrey’s current earnings. NFL teams are likely to downgrade Love for his small frame and won’t consider him an every-down back. If Love returns next year, perhaps he can improve his draft stock and potentially become a top five pick.
In between McCaffrey’s sophomore and junior seasons, he was a workout machine and gained weight while maintaining his speed. Love could do the same this offseason and add muscle. Furthermore, Love has room to improve on the field.
I can assure you that McCaffrey wasn’t picked eighth just because of his running ability but also because of his ability to also catch the ball and return kicks. Love didn’t do either this season and could prove to scouts that he’s more than just a runner by staying.
There’s always the risk of seriously getting hurt by staying, but recent history shows that might not matter. For example, Todd Gurley tore his ACL at Georgia but was still picked with the tenth pick. Leonard Fournette dealt with a reoccurring ankle injury throughout his final season at LSU, but that didn’t stop the Jaguars from picking him fourth.
Ultimately, it’s always difficult to turn down millions of dollars, but the NFL can always wait; college can’t. Attending Stanford and playing football is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the team is returning many starters on both sides of the ball and could compete for the national championship next season, and Love is a part of that championship equation.
I think Bryce Love will consider all these aspects while making decisions, and if you asked me, I’d say that he stays. (But I tend to be overly optimistic.)