Clemson QB Tajh Boyd entered the season as a potential first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. So far in 2013 he’s pretty much played at the same level that made him such a hot prospect, throwing for 2,960 yards (66.7 percent completion) for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, even breaking the ACC record for career TD passes in last night’s win over Georgia Tech. Really the only thing that could truly hurt his draft stock is by getting hurt. Which happened last night after setting the record.
Towards the end of the third quarter last night, Boyd took off running with the ball before being tackled and hitting the ground awkwardly. Usually Boyd bounces right back up, but this time he stayed on the ground writing in pain, clutching his left shoulder (non-throwing arm). Boyd himself even later mentioned he believed the injury would be season-ending.
Well, turns out it’s just a badly bruised left collarbone and sternum. He should be able to suit up in next week’s home finale against The Citadel.
But this does bring to light a thought that maybe Boyd needs to cut down on the opportunities he’s presenting the defense to hit him by constantly running the ball.
Boyd has been a strong runner his entire career at Clemson (more than 1,000 yards and 24 rushing scores), but he has taken a ton of hits in the process. Through three plus seasons of starting he’s already toted the rock 466 times. That’s a lot of hits.
Should Boyd stop running the ball entirely? Of course not. It’s been an effective tool for him shredding opposing teams and keeping defenses honest. But he shouldn’t be carrying the ball more than 100 times a season anymore, and that much should be readily apparent now.
Taking that many hits takes its toll over time, especially for someone with as lengthy of an injury history as Boyd. Look at Michael Vick. Look at Robert Griffin. Look at nearly any successful dual-threat QB over time, and they all have one thing in common: a lot of time spent on the sideline. The injuries only mount up over time.
The good thing for Boyd is that he doesn’t need to run the ball to be effective. He’s got more than enough talent in his arm and his head to be a very successful starting QB in the NFL, but he won’t get a chance to use those skills if he’s hurt on the sideline.
This injury won’t affect Boyd’s draft stock, but it should be further evidence he needs to stay in the pocket more often when he can. If he needs to take off and run with it great, but if he doesn’t then he shouldn’t.