Juniors and Underclassmen Declare for the NFL Draft

Yes I have drank the Kool-Aid and want to try and understand why 74 juniors, actually 84 if you count graduates, all got hyped up enough to come out early and hope to land that big contract in the NFL. Obviously my earlier predictions for a 33% failure rate will probably be proven way off this year. Last season 96 players declared and 34.8% of them went undrafted.

There are some exceptional seniors graduating this year and it wouldn’t surprise me that much, if the non-drafting of this crop of juniors reaches over 40%. Yes, quarterback Marcus Mariota and wide receiver Amari Cooper are sure picks, but take a minute to look at the bigger picture. There are some really gifted juniors here, but the NFL draft only has so much room before the scouts and the combine scream uncle………please no more. This junior class is rich with running backs, (14) and Wide receivers (16), but how much room does the NFL have to fill that many talented premier spots?

In 2013, 31 percent of all players on NFL rosters went undrafted. Fifteen Pro Football Hall of Famers never heard their names called in the draft. The Seahawks had eight undrafted players on last year’s Super Bowl team. You can bet that other teams will follow this recruiting angle in 2015. The process is not so clear that players cannot get noticed in the new NFL. Scouts dig deep into the bushes to find unusual talent that will suit their teams needs moving forward.

The other consideration is the number of busts at the higher echelon of the draft. Will every junior drafted become a household name? Not very likely. This is an imperfect science and it takes several years before a Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Trent Richardson can be considered a success or failure.

Below is listed the position and the number of players involved. The other stat of course is what conferences were affected the most by the upheaval. The SEC always seems to have the ability to reload and replace. They also have the most juniors leaving with 21 total. This represents an incredible amount of talent and it will be interesting to see how this affects the SEC next season. The second big surprise was the Pac-12 with 18 juniors on the hoof to the NFL.

The next highest total by Conference is the ACC with a manageable 15 players. However where this gets interesting is that two of the programs (Florida State and Louisville) had five and three players respectively. I don’t know if all that talent lost will bring the rest of the ACC closer, or if the depth at both these schools can overcome this amount of talent.

The Big Ten had 11 players declare, but none from the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Lastly was the Big Twelve with a mixture adding up to six more. The remainder were from mid-major conferences with only one school, Central Florida losing two players.

Lost in this exodus of course are the three players who left FCS programs prematurely. Most times these schools go unnoticed or at least don’t get the hype necessary. The good thing is that with the large amount of media scrutiny today and the fact that the NFL leaves no stone unturned to find talent gives Tacoi Sumler (Appalachian State), Max Flores (Colorado State) and Jaquel Pitts (Trinity International) an equal opportunity to strut their stuff in front of all concerned come combine day. Remember that Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Steve McNair, Andre Reed, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner all came from FCS or lower programs.

Quarterbacks (3)

Wide Receivers (16)

Running Backs (14)


Graduated (10)

Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State

Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Zach D’Orazio, WR, Akron

Charles Gaines, DB, Louisville

Dee Hart, RB, Colorado State

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Nigel King, WR, Kansas

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Donovan Smith, T, Penn State

Tacoi Sumler, WR, Appalachian State


Underclassmen (74)

Nelson Agholor, WR, Southern California

Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State

Kwon Alexander, LB, Louisiana State

Javorius Allen, RB, Southern California

Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Alex Carter, DB, Stanford

B.J. Catalon, RB, Texas Christian

Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana

Jalen Collins, DB, Louisiana State

Landon Collins, DB, Alabama

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

Christian Covington, DT, Rice

DaVaris Daniels, WR, Notre Dame

Ronald Darby, DB, Florida State

Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

Lorenzo Doss, DB, Tulane

Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State

Durell Eskridge, DB, Syracuse

George Farmer, WR, Southern California

Max Flores, LB, Northern Colorado

Ereck Flowers, T, Miami

Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

Jacoby Glenn, DB, Central Florida

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri

Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston

Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Chris Hackett, DB, Texas Christian

Eli Harold, DE, Virginia

Chris Harper, WR, California

Braylon Heard, RB, Kentucky

Gerod Holliman, DB, Louisville

D.J. Humphries, T, Florida

Danielle Hunter, DE, Louisiana State

David Irving, DT, Iowa State

Jesse James, TE, Penn State

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

Matt Jones, RB, Florida

Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers

Ellis McCarthy, DT, UCLA

Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

Patrick Miller, T, Auburn

Tyler Moore, G, Florida

Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT, Southern Mississippi

Andrus Peat, T, Stanford

Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

Marcus Peters, DB, Washington

Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas

Bradley Pinion, P, Clemson

Jaquel Pitts, WR, Trinity International

Jeremiah Poutasi, T, Utah

Darien Rankin, LB, North Carolina

Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State

James Sample, DB, Louisville

Jean Sifrin, TE, Massachusetts

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

Max Valles, LB, Virginia

Easton Wahlstrom, LS, Arizona State

Trae Waynes, DB, Michigan State

Leonard Williams, DE, Southern California

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

P.J. Williams, DB, Florida State

Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama

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