By Josh Svetz
Cornerback Ike Taylor likes to tackle the issues, not just with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but with the NFL in general.
Recently, Taylor has decided to tackle a somewhat low-key, issue in the NFL that many fans may not actually know about. To sum it up, with a record number of underclassmen (98) entering the NFL draft this year, concern has grown about their place in the league.
According to an article by Dave-Te Thomas, many NFL scouts and General Managers are concerned about the underclassmen of the draft not being ready for the NFL. Taylor has echoed these sentiments and he explained how he sees this problem on Trib Live Radio’s “The Ike Taylor Show “Tuesday morning.
“First, rookies in general now feel more entitled without actually doing any work in the NFL”. Taylor said. “When they feel more entitled, they don’t work as hard as they did to get drafted.”
As the ball continued to roll on this issue, Taylor got into more detail about issues that specifically hurt underclassmen.
“98 underclassmen is a lot, and the NFL doesn’t have a D League (developmental league) like the NBA,” Taylor said. “The issue is, one, your (underclassmen) body isn’t fully developed. It’s (the NFL) grown men against grown men and most guys aren’t ready for that, especially if their body isn’t fully developed. Sure, once in a blue moon the NFL has a LeBron James-type who is ready from the get-go. For the majority, many guys’ bodies aren’t ready for the NFL.”
After Taylor took on the physical nature of the game, he also delved into the mental aspect of it and how social media has affected younger players.
“With social media now being a factor, many guys just aren’t mentally tough enough to play.” Taylor said. “Before, you could get away with a lot, but with the advancement of the internet and the creation of smart phones and social media, it’s much more difficult.”
What Taylor is most likely saying is the evolution of the internet and cell phones not only creates a distraction, but can also create problems if a player is caught doing something he shouldn’t. The NFL is already a mental grind as it is and with other outside factors such as social media now added into it, it’s not a surprise that some players can’t handle it.
While Taylor had a very tough view on underclassmen, he did understand that everyone’s situation is different.
“You never know their (underclassmen) situation,” said Taylor. “You just never know what agents are telling them or their motives for leaving early. Some guys want to help their families out and because of that; they come out before they’re ready.”
Taylor definitely brought up some interesting points. It is true that many NFL players did not come from wealthy parents and going to the NFL early lets them help their families out. Agents are also trying to get paid and they sometimes may not always have the best interest of their client in mind.
Overall, Taylor seemed to have some good insight on the topic and shined some light on an issue that seems to be being swept under the rug.
The host of the show, John Harris, brought up an interesting point that according to Thomas’s breakdown, 35 out of the 98 declaring underclassmen have little to no chance of being selected in this upcoming NFL draft.
We will see how that number shakes out in the draft this year and if the high underclassmen trend continues or regresses as a result.