The decision to leave school early worked out well for the top six overall picks in April - all juniors - and the 19 underclassmen who were selected in the first round.
However, a record 65 underclassmen were granted eligibility for the 2012 draft. Not all of them could go in the first round ... or the second ... or at all. A group of six Miami Hurricanes was heavily questioned for their decisions to leave with a year of eligibility remaining. None went in the first two rounds, and at least one admits regretting the decision to bolt Al Golden's program.
"If I knew I was going to be drafted that low, I would've stayed in school," offensive guard Brandon Washington told ProCanes.com. "It was disappointing. I mean, I know I'm a better player than that."
Washington, who said he was told he could go as high as the second round, plummeted all the way to the 200th overall pick by Philadelphia late in the sixth round. He signed a four-year, $2.19 million contract that included a $91,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $390,000 in 2012, according to spotrac.com.
That's a far cry from the four-year, $4.94 million deal including a $2 million signing bonus and $507,500 2012 base salary Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu received as a second-round pick by Carolina.
Then again, former Hurricanes defensive lineman Marcus Forston and wide receiver Aldarius Johnson would love to have Washington's contract after both went undrafted.
While the NFL Advisory Board is typically a solid sounding board for underclassmen prospects before they make the official leap into the NFL, scouts, family and others can be influential in decisions that ultimately don't pay off. For Washington, it took some time to turn the page, but he's now focused on proving he's far more than a developmental late-round prospect.
"My goal was to get a chance to play in the NFL," Washington said. "I'm here now. I've got the opportunity. Most guys never get this far. I'm looking at it like that. I'm in a great situation with a great team. Now it's up to me."