Say what you want about Bret Bielema, but Arkansas’ coach has never strayed from unconventional thinking.
Bielema generated intrigue Tuesday when he conveyed a fascinating idea regarding the NFL draft during a radio interview with “Sportstalk with Bo Mattingly.” He told Mattingly he believes college players should be allowed to return to school if they go undrafted.
“I haven’t touched base with (Auburn coach) Gus (Malzahn) yet, but he had two that didn’t get drafted,” Bielema told Mattingly, according to FOX Sports’ Aaron Torres. “(Mississippi State coach) Dan (Mullen) did as well. Ohio State had a couple. Those coaches, I’m reaching out to them and trying to put together some collective thoughts on how to approach it.”
This idea isn’t terribly far off from the new rule the NCAA and NBA implemented this year. The rule allows underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft with the option to return to school up until 10 days after the May NBA Draft Combine as long as they don’t hire an agent.
Bielema’s proposition makes sense for the players, but it might not go over well in the NFL. Executives are constantly searching for diamonds in the rough minutes after the draft concludes and a number of NFL roster spots are filled by undrafted players.
Bielema wasn’t finished there, however. He suggested that drafted players who aren’t satisfied with their draft position should also be allowed to return to school. Bielema used two of his former players, running back Alex Collins and defensive lineman Darius Philon, as examples of why this could be beneficial. Bielema believes underclassmen who unexpectedly fall in the draft could potentially lose millions of dollars.
This addendum likely wouldn’t fly with the NFL. Although not nearly as flashy, mid-to-late-round selections are pivotal to filling out rosters and potentially hitting home runs with value picks. It could also be argued that an unexpected drop in draft stock is all part of the inherent risk an underclassman takes when he declares for the draft.
Nothing will likely come from Bielema’s brainstorming session anytime soon, but give the coach credit for thinking outside the box.