Today, Michigan State juniors William Gholston, Le’Veon Bell and Dion Sims all declared for the NFL Draft. I brought in Chris Vannini and Mike Wilson from The Only Colors to discuss whether they made the right decision or not.
Jameson: Personally, I don’t think it was the right decision. Lots of things go into whether a player declares or not, and for Gholston, family was a big reason. He has a son who lives in Detroit, and the sooner he can get money the better it is for his family. The thing is, he could improve his draft stock a lot and make more money in the long run if he stayed for his senior year. His stats have gone down from his 2011 year and he’s known to not work hard (coaches say that if he truly worked hard, he would have games like the 2012 Outback Bowl every game). In the long run, I don’t think this decision will be of his best interest, but short-term, it works out.
Chris Vannini: Of these three, I felt Gholston could help his stock the most with a big senior season. But then again, he’s a physical freak, and a good workout at the combine could get him into the late first round. He’s had an inconsistent career. There was no reason to believe that would change in 2013. Jameson mentioned his son, and that certainly should play into his decision. His cousin Vernon was a hyped physical prospect who has pretty much washed out. I’m sure NFL teams will ask William what makes him different than his cousin. I’d be curious to hear the answer.
Mike Wilson: Big Will was very upfront about his decision, it came down to his infant son. The preseason hype was there for Gholston, and this decision has been expected since his monster performance in the Outback Bowl last year. The numbers weren’t there and production certainly is the question mark, but with his potential, NFL teams will view Gholston as a good pro prospect. As Chris said, he probably had the most to improve in his stock by coming back. His talent in run defense is clear, but his bull rush and technique could use more refining — and that is going to come in the pros. But, at the end of the day, a man seeks to provide for his family and that is what Gholston seems to be focusing on. For that, it is a good decision.
Jameson: This was a good decision. Although he cooled down later in the year, Sims will never have another stretch of games like he had in the early part of the year. Right now, his draft stock is as high as it can be, and it’s really the perfect time to go. With all of the changes in the offense next year, you don’t want to risk injury and/or decreased production. With a good performance in the combine, he could end up being an asset for an NFL team.
Chris Vannini: This was an interesting dilemma. The majority of Sims’ selling points are his physical tools and potential, rather than his actual numbers. I do think he could have benefitted from returning for his senior year, but I don’t think it was necessarily the wrong decision to leave. I am curious to see if Sims falls a bit in the draft due to some of his injuries. Blair White went from a sure-fire draft pick to undrafted free agent due to a back injury before he even broke out at MSU. White said his back was fine, but he ended up having surgery on it last year. Sims certainly has the tools to be successful in the NFL, but tight ends are hard to project in the draft.
Mike Wilson: I thought of the three, Sims was the most likely to come back for his senior year. Similar to Gholston, what Sims brings physically is on another level. He has the body of an Antonio Gates-type TE, but has to prove that he can stay on the field. He also is going to have to answer some character questions after being involved in a laptop theft ring, but that was more than two years ago and he hasn’t shown any issues since then. When he has been on the field, he has been productive and a threat. Throw in the weak tight end class, and Sims saw the opportunity to make the most of his talents. Good decision for him.
Jameson: This one’s a no-brainer. Bell has to go for his own good. He’s lucky he made it through this year without a serious injury (which would’ve obviously hurt his draft stock). Plus, another thing is that running backs’ careers tend to be short, so it’s not going to help him in any way, shape or form to stay another year. Out of all the players on MSU to declare for the draft, he’s the one who I’m 100% sure made the best decision.
Chris Vannini: Obviously the right decision. Going from a two-star recruit to the No. 2 rated back in the draft in just three years is quite incredible and a credit to him and the MSU coaches. The Marcus Lattimore injury should be a lesson to any who consider going pro early, especially for a running back. There’s always a chance of an injury, and with the style of runner Bell is, those chances go up even more. You can never fault anyone for trying to take the money when you know it’s there. Mark Dantonio seemed to think there would be benefits to Bell returning for his senior season, but I can’t think of any.
Mike Wilson: Duh. Great decision. Coming back was not going to do anything but provide accolades and help the team, but from a personal standpoint, there wasn’t a reason to come back. It seemed obvious early in the year, but as Chris stated, Marcus Lattimore’s injury was huge. To me, that sealed it for Bell leaving early. Also, Javon Ringer posted on Facebook that he was going to give Le’Veon a call … how do you think that conversation went? Ringer had 390 carries his senior year, and Bell was looking at a similar workload if he came back. That wear and tear isn’t necessary, when running backs only have so many carries in them. He isn’t likely to be a first-round pick, but he can make an impact somewhere and brings a variety of skills to the running back position.