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OPINION: Eli Rick is potentially missing out on top 10 money by declaring for NFL Draft

Alabama CB Eli Ricks (#7) dives for a pass in 2022 matchup against Mississippi State
Gary Cosby Jr. - USA Today Sports

Five juniors for Alabama football have declared for the NFL Draft in April.

Most would agree that four names made the right decision, but the fifth name to turn pro is concerning.

RELATED: Alabama CB Eli Ricks announces NFL draft decision

No one knows the personal situation or financial situation Eli Ricks and his family are in. Ricks will make his own choice, regardless of the opinions of other people and the thought process of this article. Alabama fans hope a team picks him up and helps him excel; however, the California native is potentially missing out on top 10 money by declaring for the draft.

Nick Saban has stated several times about the best way to create value for yourself is by playing football.

Ricks, a former five-star, performed well as a true freshman at Louisiana State University. He collected four interceptions, earning Freshman All-Southeastern Conference Team honors.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder missed an opportunity to add to his success in 2021 because of a shoulder injury. Ricks was out 10 games as a sophomore, which equates to time he could not show NFL teams more of what he can do as a cornerback. He decides to transfer to the University of Alabama in the spring of 2022, hoping to restart his trajectory. Ricks was expected to start at one corner position, but he did not anchor the role until the sixth game of the season against Mississippi State.

He emerged with four pass breakups and showed promise as a lockdown defender, but he has not stacked another outing on top of it. NFL scouts will be concerned about what caused him to not become a starter until the middle of the year.

Ricks is a top-10 talent, but he’ll get selected as a second-round pick. Before the 2022 season started, he posted individual goes he wanted for the season. Some of those included 5+ interceptions, 20+ pass breakups, first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC, top 10 NFL Draft pick, Jim Thorpe Award winner, and College Football Playoff National Champion.

RELATED: Earl Little Jr. says it’s ‘my turn’ after Eli Ricks declares for NFL Draft

Ricks accomplished none of his goals. He should want to return to school just for that.

A season of being a healthy, full-time starter would have him as a top-10 pick for 2024. Patrick Surtain II, a former Alabama cornerback, was a consistent playmaker for three years.

He secured his first-round bank for 2021 after totaling 12 breakups and an interception in 2020. Surtain assisted the Tide to a perfect CFP National Championship season in his final year.

He got selected at No. 9 overall in the 2021 draft by the Denver Broncos and is heading to his first Pro Bowl for his efforts in 2022.

Ricks could have been like Surtain if he chose to return to school.

We will see what he does at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he could have benefitted from another year at Alabama.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith. 

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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