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Nebraska's Vincent Valentine Makes Critical Mistake in Declaring for NFL

Vincent Valentine

Vincent Valentine

Maybe it was Steve Harvey that slipped Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Vincent Valentine the note that he should declare early for the NFL Draft. Maybe it was his decision all along and he wanted to go through the official process to feel like he did it the right way.

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Regardless, Valentine made the wrong choice by joining teammate Maliek Collins in declaring early for the draft.

There are a number of reasons why Big Vince might’ve shrugged his shoulders and said, “why not?” He’s already graduated, which is the whole purpose behind that “student-athlete” label that keeps getting tossed around.

He could come back for another year, but that would mean risking severe injury and maybe his stock simply doesn’t move up. So many valid reasons to move on, but Valentine made a crucial error where his tag-team partner did not.

Collins knew he was going, had everything in the works and is already working with professionals in regards to training, proper diet and everything else necessary to prepare him for a future in the NFL. He may even receive an invite to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in late February.

Meanwhile, Valentine has done none of this. Collins is the superior defensive tackle while Valentine has done little to give anyone paying close attention to this year's crop at the position a reason to move him up prospective draft boards.

Another confusing element is that on paper, Valentine didn’t exactly have a banner year in 2015. He started seven games of 10 played, recorded 10 tackles (four solo), four tackles for a loss and three sacks.

Compare that to Collins who tallied 29 tackles (14 solo), seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks in all 13 games played. Keep in mind he was double-teamed the a large chunk of the time.

Valentine’s going to have to work double (maybe triple) time to get back into gear if he wants to climb those draft boards. He must show that he has the work ethic and proper eating habits to become the player an NFL organization wants him to be.

If he can’t do that, then his senior season may end up being the biggest “what if?” in Big Vince’s career.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.