Darvin’s dilemma illustrates need for change

Auburn's leading receiver for the past two seasons, Darvin Adams was shut out of the NFL draft

May 1, 2011 — What would former Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams do differently if he knew in January what he knows today?

Adams, who completed his junior season at Auburn with a national championship on January 10, announced a week after the title game that he would forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Late Saturday afternoon the draft came to a close.  Seven rounds and a handful of supplemental picks passed without Adams name being called.

Undrafted, Adams now faces an uncertain future made even more bleak by the NFL lockout.

Adams had two solid seasons for Auburn, leading the Tigers in receiving in 2009 with 997 yards and again in  2010 with 963.  Four times in 2010 he cracked the 100-yard mark including a 217-yard performance in the SEC Championship game against South Carolina.

Adams was invited to the NFL Combine and showed relatively well. His 4.5 draft score indicated he would potentially be a mid to late round pick.

Instead, Adams waited all day Saturday for a call that did not come.

Twenty eight receivers were chosen in the seven rounds of the draft. Two did not attend the Combine.  Ten of the twenty-eight had a lower Combine score than Adams, including Stephen Burton of West Texas A&M who went to the Vikings in the seventh round and Hawaii’s Kealoha Pilares who was selected by Carolina with the first pick of the fifth round.

Georgia receiver Kris Durham, who had just over 1000 yards and four total touchdowns in his career was selected by Seattle in the fourth round.  Adams, who racked up almost 2000 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Tigers was not drafted.

For Adams and others like him options are now severely limited.  An attempt to make an NFL team via free agency is currently blocked due to the NFL lockout.  Teams are not permitted to sign undrafted free agents and even if the lockout is lifted in time for the season, being denied the opportunity to come in for workouts, tryouts and mini camps makes the already difficult proposition of making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent almost impossible.

NCAA rules prohibit Adams from returning to the college game where another year of maturity and repetition might hone his skills enough for a different result in the 2012 draft.

That’s where the system fails.

Players should be allowed to test the waters, to find out whether they have true NFL value and then make a decision on whether they return to campus. They should not be required to decide in advance.

It works in NCAA baseball where players are routinely drafted and then allowed to spurn the offer to return to campus.

Would Adams have declared himself eligible for the draft in January had he known what April’s result would be? Would he have given up the chance to spend another year as the primary receiver on an SEC team had he known no NFL squad was willing to take a chance on him as a professional?

Adams is fortunate in that Auburn has a program in place to assure that all former athletes have the opportunity to get their degrees.  He can come back to school, complete his diploma and have the same better than average chance any other Auburn graduate has of finding a good job in his chosen major.

But because of the way the NCAA handles the NFL draft, Adams’ dreams of a professional football career and the financial reward it would provide are all but extinguished.  That’s something that needs to change.

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