The outlook for Kapron Lewis-Moore's NFL career changed when the defensive line prospect tore the ACL in his right knee while playing for Notre Dame against Alabama in the BCS national championship game in January 2013. About 3½ months later, Lewis-Moore was selected by the Ravens in the 2013 draft, but his knee injury was a factor in him dropping into the sixth round.
Now on the Ravens' practice squad after playing five games last year and missing his first two seasons with injuries, Lewis-Moore understands the recent decisions by college running backs Leonard Fournette (LSU) and Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) to skip their school's respective bowl games and focus on preparing for their upcoming NFL careers.
"Obviously I was in a different situation being in the national championship, but honestly, if you feel like you're going to be a top-round draft pick, you have to think for the future," Lewis-Moore said after Wednesday's practice. "You can't get mad at Fournette or McCaffrey for sitting out. If they feel like that's the best business decision for them, they should do what they feel they need to do."
Both players have gotten much criticism for leaving their teammates early and making sure they're healthy heading into the draft process. However, Lewis-Moore predicted that their teammates would be the first people to understand.
"I think the people that don't understand are maybe the people that haven't played football, or the media. If you have a chance to take care of your family, you might as well do what's right for you and your family. If that's sitting out a college game to prepare for one of your dreams, go ahead and do it," he said. "I definitely don't have any regrets. Getting hurt in my last game is unfortunate. But at the same time, that whole year was a great year. I was blessed to be one of the captains that year. If I could do it all over again, I definitely would go back and play in the national championship in my last game."
Lewis-Moore predicted more and more NFL prospects will sit out bowl games, citing the cautionary tale of another former Notre Dame player, linebacker Jaylon Smith. A sure-fire top five pick, Smith sustained a significant knee injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, which dropped him into the second round of the 2016 draft where he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Smith will miss his entire rookie season as he rehabilitates.
"If you think you're going to be a first-round draft pick, I guess you're taking a bet on yourself," Lewis-Moore said.