Posted on: January 19, 2011 1:33 pm

NFL officially recognizes 56 underclassmen

The NFL just released the names of the 56 underclassmen granted special eligibility to join the senior class in the player pool for the 2011 draft.

Three North Carolina players who were suspended for the entire 2010 season are included on the list. One other player who had not previously been mentioned as having declared early is Oregon defensive back Javes Lewis, a part-time starter for the Ducks who isn't likely to be drafted. 

The list of alphabetized names is provided below.

  • Adams, Darvin, WR,  Auburn
  • Austin, Marvin, DT. North Carolina
  • Ayers, Akeem , OLB, UCLA
  • Baldwin, Jon, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Bowers, Da'Quan, DE, Clemson
  • Brown, DeAndre, WR, Southern Mississippi
  • Burton, Brandon, DB, Utah
  • Casey, Jurrell, DT, Southern California
  • Clay, John, RB, Wisconsin
  • Claytor, Nick, T, Georgia Tech
  • Cobb, Randall, WR, Kentucky
  • Dareus, Marcell, DE, Alabama
  • Doss, Tandon, WR, Indiana
  • Evans, Darren, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Fairley, Nick, DT, Auburn
  • Gabbert, Blaine, QB, Missouri
  • Green, A.J., WR. Georgia
  • Gurley, Tori, WR, South Carolina
  • Guy, Lawrence, DT, Arizona State
  • Hamler, Jamel, WR, Fresno State
  • Harper, Jamie, RB, Clemson
  • Harris, Brandon, DB, Miami  
  • Hill, Will, DB, Florida
  • Houston, Justin, LB, Georgia
  • Hynoski, Henry, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Ingram, Mark, RB, Alabama
  • Jones, Julio, WR, Alabama
  • Keiser, Thomas, LB, Stanford
  • Leshoure, Mikel, RB, Illinois
  • Lewis, Dion, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Lewis, Javes, DB, Oregon
  • Little, Greg, WR, North Carolina
  • Liuget, Corey, DT, Illinois
  • Mallett, Ryan, QB, Arkansas
  • Moore, Rahim, DB, UCLA
  • Newton, Cam, QB, Auburn
  • Parr, Zane, DE, Virginia
  • Peterson, Patrick, DB, Louisiana State
  • Quinn, Robert, DE, North Carolina
  • Ridley, Stevan, RB, Louisiana State
  • Rodgers, Jacquizz, RB, Oregon State
  • Rudolph, Kyle, TE, Notre Dame
  • Sands, Robert, DB, West Virginia
  • Sash, Tyler, DB, Iowa
  • Siliga, Sealver, DT, Utah
  • Smith, Aldon, DE, Missouri
  • Smith, Torrey, WR, Maryland  
  • Smith, Tyron, T, Southern California  
  • Tarrant, Jerrard, DB, Georgia Tech
  • Todman, Jordan, RB, Connecticut
  • Vereen, Shane, RB, California
  • Watt, J.J., DE, Wisconsin
  • Wilkerson, Muhammad, DT, Temple
  • Williams, Aaron, DB, Texas
  • Williams, Ryan, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Wilson, Martez, LB, Illinois
As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:41 am

Poor decisions mar underclassmen deadline day

For NFL teams looking at a less than impressive senior class, January 15 has developed into a holiday of sorts. As the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, teams are hopeful that a few more presents will pop up to enhance the crop they've already seen.

It has been a bountiful catch already. Each player selected in the top five will be underclassmen, with Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller rating as the only seniors likely to have a chance at the top ten.

But for every Da'Quan Bowers or A.J. Green physically ready to make the leap to the NFL, there are other underclassmen who should have remained in school.

As of this morning I've been told of 55 players making the leap. Some of them, quite frankly, are leaping off the cliff of undrafted free agency.

Some of the most troubling decisions were made by running backs and safeties. 

Consider that so far this year there have been 12 underclassmen running backs who have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.

There were only 12 running backs drafted last year.

For players like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, and Wisconsin's John Clay, the decision could turn out disastrous.

You can't get three backs more different than the 5-11, 190 pound speedster Jones, the 6-0, 220 pound Evans and the 6-1, 248 pound bruiser Clay. Yet all three have struggled with durability and will be entering the NFL without the offenses taylored around their game that helped each standout at the collegiate level.

Jones, who has struggled the most with injuries but is the most physically gifted of the three may be one taking the biggest gamble, especially considering that scouts are going to naturally question his FCS competition. Even if he'd returned for his senior season and helped Eastern and again struggled with durability, he'd have potentially had the opportunity to play in a senior all-star game.

The weak senior running back class (scouts aren't sure there will be a single senior drafted in the top two rounds) convinced many of these underclassmen to come out. The same is true at safety. At of this morning, "only" five safeties had declared early for the draft -- UCLA's Rahim Moore, West Virginia's Robert Sands, Iowa's Tyler Sash, Georgia Tech's Jerrard Terrant and Florida's Will Hill -- but two of them could be making significant mistakes.

Moore and Hill have made some eye-popping plays over their respective careers, but each is coming off a disappointing junior season and surprised scouts with their decisions to leave early. Perhaps surprised isn't the correct word. Scouts had known that each was strongly considering the jump for the last month or so, but it doesn't change the fact that each was more highly thought of at the end of last season -- had much to gain with a strong senior year -- than they did by coming out now.

Moore, in particular, has been labeled by many as a first round caliber prospect, but after doing my film review of him this past week, I see an unreliable open field tackler who is inconsistent in coverage. His FBS-leading 10 interceptions in 2009 may have been a by-product of the play of his former teammates, now NFL players (Bucs' DT Brian Price and Titans' CB Alterraun Verner). Without them, Moore intercepted one pass in 2010.  I gave him a 3rd-4th round grade.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 11:51 pm

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Stanford QB Andrew Luck got the big headlines by announcing he would stay in school, but several other players also made announcements today.

Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers surprised nobody by saying he was ready to move on to the next level. A probable top 5 selection, Bowers' combination of strength and agility at 280 pounds will gain fans of defensive coordinators running 3-4 and 4-3 base schemes. He's not quite the athlete that Julius Peppers was coming out of the ACC as a junior, but Bowers will run a very good 40 for his size and impress in other areas, as well.

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett announced he will enter the draft after a good performance against Ohio State Tuesday night. His arm strength is among the best in recent memory, but his long delivery allowed Buckeye performers to bat down one of his pass and intercept another late in the game. His deep ball accuracy is lacking, as well. His footwork is inconsistent, as he at times escaped the pocket but other times threw poor passes while stepping up to avoid pressure. Still, scouts love the big arm...and he's got that.

Wisconsin DE/DT J.J. Watt joined the fray, as well. He looks to be a mid-to-late 1st round pick, depending on whether a team values him as much as the Rams did Adam Carriker or if he's viewed as a bit of a DT/DE 'tweener like Tyler Brayton. His effort and quickness off the snap are unmistakable, and he could add more weight to become a fine 3-4 five-technique.

Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph missed most of his junior season, but decided to enter the draft, anyway. It's a similar story to former Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski, who has performed well with the Patriots as a rookie. Rudolph's 6-5, 265-pound frame make him a Jason Witten-like receiver prospect at the next level. He could go anywhere from the late first to the mid-second round.

Virginia Tech RB Darren Evans decided to pass on his final year of eligibility, as well. He's not an elite in any one part of his game, but would likely have not seen a great jump in his stock after next year with David Wilson, and possibly Ryan Williams if he stays in school, taking a lot of the carries. A team will take a shot on him in the late rounds as a solid rotational back.

UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers was a player I looked forward to watching this year, but he and his mates' uneven performances didn't really help his draft stock. Still, his length and instincts are perfect for 3-4 teams looking for OLBs...so he could end up a first round pick.

Another Pac-10 linebacker, Thomas Keiser, has been underrated because of the Luck hype machine. The lanky, high-effort former defensive end is a similar prospect to former Oklahoma star Dan Cody, whose career did not work out as expected due to injuries, and long-time starter Scott Fujita. Look for him to be a top 80 selection.

Indiana receiver Tandon Doss also announced his intentions to enter the draft, much like former Hoosier teammate James Hardy. Doss looks a lot like Cleveland 2008 second-round pick Mohamed Massaquoi , a 6-3, 200-pound number-two receiver who runs tough but lacks great elusiveness. Massaquoi has more speed, but Doss has better hands.

Tomorrow, it is expected that DE/DT Marcell Dareus and RB Mark Ingram will declare for the draft, as well. Dareus' potential as an interior playmaker is fantastic. He could be viewed as the next B.J. Raji or Gerard Warren, able to play anywhere on a three-man line or either interior spot in the 4-3. Scouts weren't impressed with the way he looked coming off suspension early in the year, but he appeared in better shape in the Tide's bowl win. Ingram, of course, looked like the top running back prospect against Michigan State, as well, running through opponents when he wasn't using his excellent vision to elude them. Both Alabama juniors should be selected in the top half of the first round, if not the top ten.

Two other SEC stars are also expected to declare for the draft tomorrow. Georgia WR A.J. Green could be the overall number one pick if Carolina keeps the selection because of his hands, smooth running and exceptional hands. His teammate, Brandon Boykin could force his way into the second round despite lacking great size because of his toughness and ball skills.

There are many other underclassmen expected to announce their intentions before the January 15th deadline... LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Florida CB Janoris Jenkins, North Carolina DE/OLB Robert Quinn, and Auburn DT Nick Fairley are just a few of dozens potentially entering the 2011 draft class.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Posted on: January 19, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2010 1:08 pm

53 Underclassmen Enter Draft, Ties Record

The NFL announced that 53 underclassmen have petitioned and been accepted into the player pool for the 2010 NFL Draft. The total matches 2008 as the highest number of underclassmen allowed in the draft in league history. It continues a growing trend of young players forgoing their eligibility early. There were "only" 35 players who made themselves eligible in 2001 and just last year the number was 46.

Due to virtual perfect storm of circumstances, the mass exodus of underclassmen was predictable. Concerns about a potential rookie salary cap has generated the most attention, but other factors, including the high profile injuries to Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham also likely played a role in pushing the kids out.

Another significant factor that led to underclassmen coming out early was the almost season-long battle between the NFL, the BCS conferences and their video companies, DVSport and XOS Technologies. NFL scouts typically received film from the college teams each week for free. This year, however, the conferences demanded payment. The resulting conflict took months to resolve, leaving scouts little time to grade the huge number of underclassmen that sent in their paperwork to the NFL Advisory Committee. Without the opinions of the NFL teams that would actually be doing the drafting, players often resorted to the opinions of agents, media and friends/family.

Many of the names among the 53 are recognizable to even casual fans. Some, however, are not. As is always the case, one hopes that those relatively unknown names did their due diligence in making this critical decision. Players had until January 15th to declare for the draft. They are given a 72 hour time period to change their mind and return to school, assuming they do not sign with an agent. South Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Norwood is a recent example of a player that announced he'd be leaving, only to change his mind and return to school. He earned his third consecutive All-SEC honor this year and has helped his draft stock.

Here are the names of the 53 players:

Basped, Kevin

Benn, Arrelious

Berry, Eric

Best, Jahvid

Bowman, Navorro

Bradford, Sam

Briscoe, Dezmon

Brown, Antonio

Bryant, Dez

Bulaga, Bryan

Burnett, Morgan

Campbell, Bruce

Clausen, Jimmy

Curran, Rennie

Davis, Anthony

Dunlap, Carlos

Dwyer, Jonathan

Franks, Dominique

Geathers, Clifton

Gibson, Thaddeus

Gresham, Jermaine

Griffen, Everson

Gronkowski, Rob

Haden, Joe

Hernandez, Aaron

Jackson, Kareem

Jones, Chad

Jones, Reshad

Joseph, Linval

Marshall, Darius

Mathews, Ryan

McClain, Rolando

McCoy, Gerald

McKnight, Joe

McNeal, Shawnbrey

Mitchell, Carlton

Moore, Joshua

Morgan, Derrick

Norton, Jerell

Pierre-Paul, Jason

Pouncey, Maurkice

Price, Brian

Rogan, Dennis

Snead, Jevan

Spievey, Amari

Tate, Golden

Thomas, Demaryius

Thomas, Earl

Warren, Donovan

Williams, Damian

Williams, Mike

Worilds, Jason

Wright, Major

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com