Players leaving early for the NFL Draft is a double-edged sword. On the one side, it's a good thing to have players that are good enough to leave to play in the NFL. If you have a lot of NFL talent on your roster, you're probably going to win a lot of games. In turn, seeing a bunch of players from your team selected during the NFL Draft in the spring then makes your program more attractive to potential recruits, possibly increasing your odds of landing more NFL talent.
But on the other side of that coin, while some programs constantly reload to replace key contributors, not every program can be Alabama. For every program of that caliber, there are dozens that don't enjoy the luxury of looking down the assembly line for the next first-round pick to replace the one they're losing.
Still, roster turnover is just a way of life at the college level, and the good coaches make sure their team is as prepared as it can possibly be for these events. And while a lot of(more every year, seemingly), some teams feel it more than others. These 10 schools, in particular, find themselves with plenty to replace in 2019.
|I mentioned at the top that Alabama is in the rare position of being able to just reload rather than rebuild. This is a program that is no stranger to seeing players leave early for the NFL Draft, and 2019 won't be any different; the Tide have seven early departures this season. Among them are not just first-round picks, but players who could be the first chosen at their position like defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and offensive tackle Jonah Williams. Those two could be top-10 picks by the time the draft arrives, and they're joined by running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Irv Smith, defensive back Savion Smith, safety Deionte Thompson and linebacker Mack Wilson. That's four starters from a defense that showed some cracks against Clemson in the title game.|
|Speaking of Clemson, the unit that made the Tigers defense brilliant was its defensive line. Well, two of Clemson's four early departures are members of that line in Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence. They join seniors on that line Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant, as Clemson's entire line moves on. There are capable replacements behind them like Xavier Thomas, but it's hard to imagine Clemson's defense not skipping a beat next season, especially when you consider that starting linebacker Tre Lamar and starting corner Trayvon Mullen are also leaving. If there's good news, I suppose it's that Isaiah Simmons has opted to return.|
|The Gators are losing both quantity and quality. Three defensive starters in safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, defensive end Jachai Polite and linebacker Vosean Joseph are leaving. Those three combined for 209 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 18 sacks and four interceptions last season. That's a lot of production. The good news is that Florida's defense was young this season and there weren't any senior starters on the unit, so plenty of other players return. That's not the case on offense, as starting right tackle Jawaan Taylor joins three other seniors on the offensive line that will be leaving. As will running back Jordan Scarlett.|
|The Bulldogs offense will have a lot to replace in 2019. Its three leading receivers are all going, as Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley and Isaac Nauta are moving on. That trio combined for 44.8 percent of the team's receptions, 48.4 percent of its receiving yards and 55.9 percent of its receiving touchdowns. Further complicating matters is that tight end Luke Ford, who was a top recruit in Georgia's 2018 class, has left to transfer to Illinois, meaning Georgia is down one of Nauta's potential replacements. The Dawgs will also lose Elijah Holyfield, who rushed for 1,018 yards last season, though that loss is mitigated by having fellow 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift returning.|
|How many times has a school had two tight ends leave early for the NFL Draft? I'm not sure it's ever happened before, but of course, if it were ever going to, it would happen at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are losing both Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson to the NFL. They were Iowa's two leading receivers in 2018, accounting for 36.4 percent of the team's receptions, 43.4 percent of its receiving yards and 48.1 percent of its receiving touchdowns. Just between the two of them! For a program that utilizes its tight ends as much as Iowa does, losing two major talents early is a significant loss and one that won't be as easily replaced as it could be at other programs. To further the damage, the Hawkeyes are also losing safety Amani Hooker (65 tackles, four interceptions) and defensive end Anthony Nelson (9.5 sacks).|
|Iowa State is only losing two players, but they are two critical ones. Both running back David Montgomery and receiver Hakeem Butler are leaving. Combined, these two were responsible for 1,216 rushing yards (71.9 percent of the team's rushing total) and 1,457 receiving yards (47.1 percent). They also scored 22 of the team's 42 touchdowns (52.4 percent) this year. Montgomery was the focus of the team's offense, while Butler was the only receiver in the country to finish with over 1,000 yards receiving while averaging at least 20 yards per reception. They will not be easily replaced.|
|I went back and forth between Michigan and LSU as my 10th team on this list because they're in similar spots. Both are losing three key players from their defense, including one at each level. In the end, I chose Michigan because even though LSU is losing a ton of production like the Wolverines, overall its 2018 defense was younger and has plenty coming back. Michigan is not only losing linebacker Devin Bush (79 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks), defensive tackle Rashan Gary (44 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, countless double-teams drawn) and corner David Long (8 pass deflections, 1 interception), but also loses key seniors like Chase Winovich, Brandon Watson and Tyree Kinnel as well.|
|The most prominent name Ohio State is losing is quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who threw for 50 touchdowns this year and could be the first QB taken in the draft. He may not be the first Buckeye to hear his name called this spring, however, as Nick Bosa missed most of the season due to injury, but could be a top-five pick, if not the first pick overall. He's that talented. Bosa is joined by another member of the Ohio State defensive line departing early in tackle Dre'Mont Jones. The Buckeyes will also lose starting guard Michael Jordan and running back Mike Weber. There will be a lot of new faces in key places in Ryan Day's first season at the helm in Columbus.|
|Kyler Murray is gone. He may not be playing in the NFL next year, but he has declared for the NFL Draft as he tries to figure out whether his future will be in football or baseball. Whatever he chooses, Oklahoma still finds itself in a position where it needs to replace the Heisman Trophy winner for the second straight season. Will Murray's replacement be somebody already on the roster, or will Lincoln Riley try to turn another transfer into a Heisman winner? I don't know, but whoever plays QB will be doing so without running back Rodney Anderson, leading receiver Marquise Brown and starting right tackle Cody Ford.|
|Penn State loses leading rusher Miles Sanders, which means the Nittany Lions are replacing a former five-star running back for the second straight season. The larger area of concern, however, is in the trenches. Penn State loses the entire right side of its offensive line in Connor McGovern and Ryan Bates, as well as two key members of its defensive line in Shareef Miller and Kevin Givens. Combine those departures with the loss of other key seniors on defense as well as quarterback Trace McSorley, and Penn State has a lot of production to replace in 2019.|