Return to school for a senior season or take a chance at a big money contract and a pro career?
That decision is facing many of college football's top players over the next few months, as eligible players must decide if they will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft.
At least five junior quarterbacks are seriously considering making the jump to the NFL, according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports. Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Georgia's Aaron Murray, San Jose State's David Fales, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas are all strong possibilities to declare for April's draft.
Talent is abound in the junior quarterback class, but the production in 2012 has been severely lacking. Some of the bigger name juniors have displayed flaws and inconsistencies in their game throughout the season. But a lack of firepower from the senior class, could open up some juniors to shoot up boards.
Each of these prospects would be best served returning to school. From a football standpoint, they would all benefit from another season to refine their skills. However, in terms of cashing in at the right time, these quarterbacks have some interesting choices to make. Let's break down the decision for each of the five and decide whether now is the right time for each to enter the NFL Draft.
Tyler Bray: Should declare
Coming into his junior season, Tyler Bray was one of my favorite quarterback prospects in the country. His strong arm, gunslinger mentality and jaw-dropping deep ball had me believing in his pro potential.
His 2012 season has uncovered a few of his flaws, however. Bray has shown lapses in his decision making and accuracy far too often, and as a result, hasn't established much consistency as a passer this season. Bray is also not the best athlete, which has been evident in his repeated failed attempts to avoid pressure.
Overall, Bray didn't have a great season and certainly wouldn't be entering the 2013 NFL Draft with a full head of steam. While another year of college ball would do Bray some good, that doesn't mean that he shouldn't declare for the draft. He is the type of prospect a team could fall in love with. Given his upside, it's not crazy to think he could sneak into the first round. At the very least, someone would take a chance on Bray in the second round.
Also, Tennessee will be dealing with a coaching change and could lose its top two receivers to the draft. That wouldn't exactly be an ideal situation to return to for his senior season.
Aaron Murray: Should not declare
Aaron Murray has a lot working against him. He's been wildly inconsistent as a junior, for starters. Murray has some major flaws as a professional prospect. He stands just 6-feet-1-inch tall, which is not ideal. He has also exhibited some accuracy and decision making issues, neither of which eases any concerns about his height.
Murray needs another season to prove himself. He needs to put together a consistent season of tape. If he enters the draft, it's tough to see a team drafting him before the third round.
David Fales: Should strongly consider declaring
It would be tough to fault David Fales either way. On the one hand, he is a very talented prospect having a superb season in a muddled quarterback class. On the other hand, he is not yet a household name, and it's tough to say where he would be drafted if he decides to turn pro.
The things we do know are that Fales can play and the top of this quarterback class will inspire a wide range of opinions on the best prospects. That's the perfect formula for a prospect like Fales to rise quickly and get drafted higher than people expect.
Derek Carr, Fresno State: Should not declare
Derek Carr has tons of talent and will definitely be on the radar of NFL teams entering his senior season. Saying he should stay in school is no indictment on him as a player, I just think he hasn't yet maximized his potential or his draft value. With a strong senior season, we could be talking about Carr as one of the best quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Carr said after Fresno State's most recent game that he would be returning to school, so it appears he agrees.
Logan Thomas: Should declare
Logan Thomas, like Tyler Bray, is the type of high upside prospect that certain coaches and evaluators will fall in love with. He has a strong arm and outstanding athleticism. His junior season, however, has been nothing short of ugly.
So, why should he declare for the draft? Well, in a weak class, a high upside prospect like Thomas could get over-drafted. He's nowhere near ready for the NFL, and I personally would not draft him in the first three rounds, but that doesn't mean an NFL team won't. I have a feeling he will forego his senior season and enter the draft. It's tough to blame him.