First, what exactly has he proven in his college career? He underachieved at Colorado, struggled with his weight and conditioning, transferred to USF, sat out a season, played one year for the Bulls, had a decent campaign, and now he's decided to go pro. There's no history of solid production at all that would make it look like a good idea for him to move on to the next level.
Scott ran for 814 yards and scored a total of six TDs this year, but as Greg Auman has pointed out a couple of times on Twitter, he didn't score any of those against the eight BCS AQ schools that he faced. (He missed the game against Syracuse.) Four of his six TDs came against Florida A&M, which was maybe the biggest talent mismatch in school history. In the eight BCS AQ games he played, he ran for 499 yards, never reached 20 carries, and topped out at 100 yards against Rutgers. Scott isn't a pass-catching back, and he had some trouble hanging on to the ball.
Maybe he would have scored more if the play-calling hadn't been so terrible by the goal line. But he also got to play in an offense that ran the ball a lot differently than the usual NFL offense does. He had much bigger holes to run through than he would in a pro-style offense, and he didn't show a whole lot of pile-pushing, run-guys-over ability. I find it very hard to believe that Scott wouldn't have benefitted from another year of college football.
You might want to compare Scott to Jason Pierre-Paul, who also left USF for the NFL after one season. But there are huge differences. Pierre-Paul was a star in junior college and was a highly sought-after transfer. He got better as the 2009 season went along, and he played well against strong competition. JPP went pro because he was ready and qualified people were telling him he could be a first-round pick. On the other hand, Scott had a middling college career, and Josh Newberg at Bulls 247 has been saying all the way back to the summer that he believed Scott was planning to leave for the NFL after this season, no matter what. Perhaps he's thinking that running backs take such a beating that they don't have a whole lot of time to make money, so he needs to get to the NFL as fast as he can. But he hasn't done much to stand out and make himself draft-worthy, and just because the player thinks he's ready doesn't mean that scouts and NFL personnel managers think the same way.
How does Scott compare to last year's crop of early running back entrants? Not well at all. After the jump, I've put together a rundown of all the early entrants to the 2011 NFL Draft at that position, including their stats in 2010 and other relevant notes.
|Mark Ingram||Alabama||158||847||13||21||283||1||Ran for 1658 yards and 17 TD and had 32 receptions for 334 yards and 3 TD in 2009. Won the 2009 Heisman Trophy.|
|Ryan Williams||Virginia Tech||110||425||9||10||109||1||Was injured and only played in 10 games. Ran for 1655 yards and 21 TDs in 2009.|
|Jordan Todman||Connecticut||334||1642||14||19||106||0||Missed one game. Ran for 1188 yards in 2009.|
|Dion Lewis||Pittsburgh||219||1034||13||27||216||0||Ran for 1799 yards and 17 TD in 2009.|
|Jacquizz Rodgers||Oregon State||256||1110||14||44||287||3||Ran for 1440 yards and 21 TD, plus 78 receptions for 522 yards and 1 TD in 2009. Ran for 1253 yards and 11 TD in 2008.|
|John Clay||Wisconsin||187||996||14||1||9||0||Ran for 1517 yards and 18 TD in 2009.|
|Taiwan Jones||Eastern Washington||221||1677||14||24||345||3||Missed three games (team played 15).|
Scott's college stats don't even come close to most of these players' production while they were in school. Nearly all of them had at least one 1000-yard season, most of them far exceeded that milestone, and several did it more than once. These are largely the results of players who truly had nothing left to prove at the college level and were ready to try their luck in the NFL. All of them were drafted except for Clay, who also had injury issues.
(If you go back a couple more years, practically every early entrant at running back was ready to go pro. That list includes Jahvid Best, Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews, Donald Brown, and Beanie Wells.)
Only Harper is comparable to Scott, and he had a lot of the same issues at Clemson that Scott did in his career -- weight problems, injury issues, and questions about his work ethic. (Shakin' the Southland, SB Nation's Clemson blog, had a bemused reaction when Harper decided to go pro early.) He was drafted by the Titans in the fourth round, only had 17 carries this season, and probably has a marginal NFL future. Best of luck to him... but barring a surge up the draft boards during workout season and the combine, so does Darrell Scott.