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Christian McCaffrey skips bowl game to focus on NFL draft

Rice v Stanford

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal leaps over the line for a three yard gain and a first down against the Rice Owls in the first quarter of their NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey has joined LSU running back Leonard Fournette in making a rare decision that may soon become commonplace: They’re skipping their bowl games to focus on the NFL draft.

McCaffrey announced today that he won’t play in Stanford’s bowl game because he wants to keep his body healthy for the Combine and put himself in the best position possible at draft time.

“Very tough decision, but I have decided not to play in the Sun Bowl so I can begin my draft prep immediately,” McCaffrey wrote. “Thanks to all my teammates for their 100% support--It means a lot to me. Go Cardinal!”

McCaffrey and Fournette are taking an unusual step, but it may soon become commonplace. Last year, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith suffered a major knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl and dropped from a likely Top 5 pick to the second round, costing himself millions of dollars in the process. Why should players take that risk while they’re amateurs, instead of protecting their bodies until they turn pro?

They shouldn’t. McCaffrey and Fournette are doing the smart thing. And whether the NCAA likes it or not, it will soon become the common thing.