2014 NFL Draft: Underclassmen deadline set for January 15

The 2014 NFL Draft is set for May 8-10, 2014, but there are several key dates between now and then, including the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. Confirmed by a NFL spokesman, January 15, 2014 will be this year’s deadline for draft-eligible underclassmen to petition for early entry for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Last year a record 74 underclassmen declared early for the 2013 NFL Draft, continuing a three-year trend as more and more college players pass on remaining college eligibility for the chance at a NFL career. Prospects at least three years removed from high school (usually college juniors or redshirt sophomores) are eligible to enter the NFL Draft pool.

I included 21 underclassmen in my current mock draft while Rob Rang has 20 in his first round projection.

In the 2013 NFL Draft last April, 16 of the 32 players selected in the opening round were underclassmen. Draft classes are boosted every year by the early entrants, especially in the first round, and the 2014 class shouldn’t be any different. According to the top-32 players ranked by NFLDraftScout.com for May’s NFL Draft, 21 are underclassmen, including Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is the frontrunner to be the No. 1 overall selection.

Three redshirt sophomore quarterbacks are also included among the top-32 prospects: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. Since 1970 only three redshirt sophomore quarterbacks bypassed their remaining two years of college eligibility and went on to be first round picks: Mike Vick (2001), Tommy Maddox (1992) and Todd Marinovich (1991).

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