You follow the game, so you already know that Oklahoma DT Charles Walker decided to leave the team this week to focus on his NFL future.
It’s a complicated issue. On one hand, he’s struggled with concussions throughout his time in Norman, and hadn’t played since Oct. 1. Obviously, another concussion might eliminate him from NFL draft boards entirely. On the other hand, there’s loyalty, heart and commitment to the game. How do you walk away from a team that could still wind its way into BCS Championship play?
Already, there’s been plenty of speculation that this kind of decision would make him too hot to handle for NFL teams, especially if head coach Bob Stoops decides to bury him with NFL teams. But rather than speculating, I took the question to several of my friends in scouting. The responses were pretty diverse.
- “Dumb decision. Nobody’s touching a guy with concussion issues. He’s off draft boards most likely.”
- “Do not really know the story very well. Sounds like it is not going to help (him) and more teams will be concerned now.”
- “I don’t think it affects him really at the next level. It’ll rub teammates the wrong way, but also will alert teams for the severity of the concussions. So maybe it did hurt a little bit, but if he’s truly special and it’s an isolated incident, I don’t think it’ll drop him much. NFL teams keep good players for far worst issues.”
- “His number of concussions coupled with games missed is the concern! He has medical issues. He was not playing because of concussions so it would not be in Stoops’ best interest to (criticize him to scouts).”
- “Never good to leave the team completely to focus on individual endeavors while the season’s still going on (unheard of – the first and most important rule of football is never quit). Not that doing what’s best for him isn’t going to work out in the long run . . . but how can you quit the team if you’re able-bodied enough to train for NFL prep (run/lift)? Makes him look out of touch with the team dynamic and self-centered even if his brains are legitimately scrambled and he needs to take off. Media will probably side with him and give him a pass because it involves concussions and stirs up new topics for them to report on.”
The consensus (if there is a consensus) seems to be that the concussions are a bigger issue than his midseason exit from the team. It makes sense. At the end of the day, talent, not attitude, is all that really matters.
Don’t believe it? Almost exactly a year ago, a top player made comments that could be construed as negative and divisive. We even did a blog post about him, and in it, some scouts dismissed his talk, while others were concerned. He went on to be the No. 4 pick in the draft. Today, that player, Cowboys OH Ezekiel Elliott, is the toast of the NFL, maybe the hottest running back in the game.