Former Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs left college early and entered the 2015 NFL Draft, only to slip into the fifth round where he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings.
But as time passes, even though Diggs fell to that point, it is becoming clear that the former Terrapins star made the right decision.
In his first career NFL start on Sunday, Diggs tallied 129 receiving yards. It was the second straight game that he had at least 80 yards each in two straight games. The last Vikings rookie to do that? A guy by the name of Randy Moss.
Set aside the coaching change at Maryland or any internal program questions. On strictly a personal basis -- because that’s ultimately what should dictate a player’s decision -- here are four reasons why Diggs made the right call.
1) Getting paid
Amateur athletes don’t get monetarily compensated for their work. Professional athletes do. Diggs reportedly signed a four-year, $2.5 million deal with the Vikings after being drafted. That’s obviously far more than the scholarship athletes receive in college and often at least one major driving force behind declaring.
It also sets up for this....
2) Contract implications
Perhaps part of the criticism for Diggs leaving was that falling to the fifth round put him in a certain pay bracket and if he could have improved his stock with another year in college, he would be making more.
But that’s a risk (explained more below) and coming out now starts the clock, so to speak. He is working through the first year of that four-year deal, instead of starting the first year next season. Second contracts are where players can really cash out and Diggs is essentially betting on his own talents.
If he continues to produce this way, he can make himself some good money in a few years -- one year sooner than if he had stayed.
3) Injury concerns
Injuries were part of the reason Diggs slipped in the draft. Though they could really be classified as freak injuries -- he got rolled up on and broke his leg, then got hit in the abdomen and bruised a kidney -- NFL scouts take notice of that.
If he had stayed in school, he would have run the risk of being injured again while not being under contract. If injury does occur now at some point, he’s still receiving a paycheck.
4) Quarterback issues at Maryland
Diggs caught passes primarily from dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown in college, who was an impact player with his legs, but had limitations through the air. But Brown would likely get the starting job over the three quarterbacks on the Maryland roster right now.
Maryland has struggled to get the ball to its receivers with consistency this season, whether it be Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe, or Daxx Garman under center.
Maryland is 121st of 128 teams in the country in yards per pass attempt at 5.1. Its top receiver, Levern Jacobs, has 222 yards through six games.
If Diggs were to play another year in an offense that struggles to get him the football, perhaps he could have slipped further in the draft. Now he is in an offense with a blossoming quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and he is quickly becoming his favorite target.