Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey announced on Monday he will not play in the Sun Bowl later this month, instead doing the sensible thing and focusing on his preparation for the NFL Draft.
— Christian McCaffrey (@CMccaffrey5) December 19, 2016
Neither Fournette nor McCaffrey need to show NFL scouts anything else on film in a bowl game that, in the grand scope of the future of LSU and Stanford, doesn’t mean much. Both running backs are likely first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, with Fournette more of a lock than McCaffrey.
But consider what happened to Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith a year ago: The star linebacker fell from first-round lock — and potentially being one of the first ten players selected — to being a second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys because of a freak injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. Had Smith not torn his ACL and LCL — and more importantly for his draft stock, suffered nerve damage in his knee — he would’ve made a significantly greater amount of money last May. The only way to avoid what happened to Smith would’ve been to not play in the bowl game.
And if your counter-argument is that these players are quitting on their teams, consider this point:
Got a text from a coach. “If some coaches can skip bowls to get ready for their next job, how can anyone fault Fournette or McCaffrey??”
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 19, 2016