Following the Citrus Bowl, many Penn State players will begin to turn their attention towards the NFL draft. Plenty of the graduating seniors will give their shots at the NFL and some of the underclassmen may do the same.
Redshirt senior Amani Oruwariye projects to be a day one or day two pick and quarterback Trace McSorley will likely see himself picked at some point on the third day unless he ends up as a undrafted free agent. Some of the other seniors, such as Nick Scott and DeAndre Thompkins could also find themselves on NFL rosters at some point this spring.
Another player that could leave early is junior offensive linemen Connor McGovern, who is projected to be a late day two or day three pick. If McGovern were to leave early, it would be a risk for him, so it will be interesting to see which direction McGovern decides to go.
One of the names on Penn State that has drawn the most interest has been running back Miles Sanders. Sanders, still only a junior, is in his first year starting following the departure of Saquon Barkley. Everyone knew how talented Sanders was, but he had to wait his turn behind the best running back in program history.
Sanders stuffed the stat sheet in 2018, tallying 1,223 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
After only starting for one year, would Sanders really forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft?
If he were to declare, Sanders would likely be a day two or day three pick. With the upside Sanders has, he could cement himself as a solid second-round pick, or even higher, with a strong 2019 season in Happy Valley.
There is a lot that goes into a player’s decision to leave school early. Those will all weigh on Sanders following the Citrus Bowl. Does he want to head to the NFL now, or wait a year and possibly make himself a higher profile player?
Penn State coach James Franklin said that he never holds back underclassman from declaring early for the Draft and even said that he told Barkley that he better leave Penn State for the NFL after last season. Would he do the same with Sanders?
If Sanders was to leave, Penn State has some talented backs ready to take the reigns as the feature back. Ricky Slade showed some upside this season as a true freshman this season, especially towards the end of the year. It also appears that Penn State is primed to land running back target Noah Cain out of IMG Academy in Florida.
Without Sanders, Penn State will have an exciting young core at running back. With Sanders, Penn State may have one of the most explosive backfields in the nation, and Sanders has the chance to be one of the top backs in the country.
Sanders will likely be drafted if he declares this year, but it may not be until rounds 4-7. Being drafted that late makes it a lot tougher to make a name for yourself on an NFL roster. Staying an extra year could slide Sanders up to a second-round pick, and that would give him a much better chance at being a team’s top choice at running back.
While there are pros in Sanders coming back, there are also cons. There is always the risk of injury and that is something that needs to be weighed heavily. If Sanders stays and gets hurt next season, it will cost him draft stock and also cost him a lot of money.
All of these must be weighed by Sanders and his family when deciding whether to forgo his senior season and head to the NFL. This is a situation where he needs to think of himself before thinking about the Penn State program.
When it is all set and done, my prediction is that Sanders will stay for one more year in Happy Valley and up his draft stock. With a new quarterback next season, it will be helpful to have a superstar running back to complement him.
But, if Sanders does decide to leave for the NFL. Penn State will support his decision and will still be in good hands going forward at the running back position.
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