Renck & File: Shedeur Sanders will exercise leverage in NFL draft. Prediction: Cowboys take him

Shedeur Sanders returns for a second season in Boulder poised to become the best quarterback in CU football history. He won’t own all the records but will cement his legacy with his draft status as the projected No. 1 overall pick in 2025.

His father and coach, Deion Sanders, believes he would have gone second this year. So why come back? Shedeur wants to be the “first quarterback off the board.”

It’s a gamble that brings the risk of injury. Shedeur was sacked 52 times last season, leading to a fractured back. He insists he’s “110 percent,” ready to improve with new body guards on the offensive line and a more balanced attack under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

During a recent appearance on the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” podcast, Coach Prime created a stir. He predicted Shedeur and two-way star Travis Hunter would be drafted in the top four and added, “There’s certain cities that ain’t gonna happen. … It’s gonna be an Eli.”

Prime, of course, was referring to Eli Manning — the consensus No.1 pick in 2004 who declared prior to the draft that he would not play for the San Diego Chargers. They took him anyway, then shipped him to the New York Giants. Manning had leverage. Shedeur will, too (I am not convinced Hunter will). Like USC’s Caleb Williams before him, Shedeur is a millionaire NIL athlete.

I applaud a collegiate athlete exercising his power because more than any position in the draft, where a quarterback goes matters. It is hard to overcome organizational dysfunction. Patrick Mahomes struck gold by going to the Chiefs. Josh Allen benefited by landing in Buffalo. Conversely, Trevor Lawrence is the only one of five 2021 first-round quarterbacks who remains with his original team.

It is certain Deion will influence his son’s approach. Following in line with NFL analysts Ryan Clark and Harry Douglas, I will make an early prediction: Shedeur ends up in Dallas. The Cowboys could move on from Dak Prescott after this season. I would not be surprised if Jerry Jones, bucking recent draft strategy, goes all-in for Shedeur.

If Shedeur wants to exercise his leverage, I am here for all of it. This power play by the top quarterback will become more common. And it also comes with enormous pressure: You better be the guy, or the blowback will be fierce.

Tad poles leaving: So much for a Final Four pursuit next season for the CU Buffs after winning two tournament games. Eddie Lampkin Jr., J’Vonne Hadley and Luke O’Brien all entered the transfer portal, and Cody Williams, Tristan da Silva and K.J. Simpson are likely going into the NBA Draft. Coach Tad Boyle excels at developing players. But the new college landscape centers on the saying, “Get old and stay old” when it comes to recruiting the portal.

Rockie Wrong Way: Even by Rockies standards, Thursday’s opener was an embarrassment. Not only did Colorado allow 14 runs in an inning, but the Diamondbacks finished 12 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

Nate Won’t be ‘Hart’ broken: Nathan MacKinnon’s pursuit of history ended in controversy. The Avs star had a case for an assist. Instead, his home point streak ended at 35 games, five shy of Wayne Gretzky’s record. MacKinnon winning the Hart Trophy will ease the sting.

On the Bench: I get it. The Nuggets will shave minutes in the playoffs. But they need some bench players to step up. Watching their second unit on Wednesday without Jamal Murray to caffeinate the group, I wonder where the scoring will come from. Between Peyton Watson, Christian Braun and Reggie Jackson, one must step up because the Nuggets are not going 16-4 in the playoffs this year. It could be closer to 16-8 — a grind that will require a legitimate reserve clause.

Mail Time

Question: So who will be the Rockies’ MVP this season?

Answer: Dinger.

Rich Lamb, email winner.

More than ever, “Wait til next year” feels like a warning with the Rockies.

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