These 10 college football teams were hit hardest by early entries in the 2020 NFL Draft
Early entries to the draft are more commonplace than ever, but some teams feel the sting a little more
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the official list of early entries will be released in earnest. Anymore, leaving early for the draft can be one of the smartest business decisions a college player makes, even if he's not a projected first-round talent.
But players leaving early for the NFL Draft is a double-edged sword. On the one side, it's a positive thing to have players that are good enough to leave early. If a team has a lot of NFL talent on the roster, it's probably going to win a lot of games. It also makes your program more attractive for high-end players looking to come in as prized recruits.
On the other side, though, it can be tough to reload every single year. Not every program is like Alabama. Some teams are hurt way more by losing underclassmen early. Though roster turnover is a part of life for every school, these ones in particular find themselves with plenty to replace in 2019.
|Coach Nick Saban deals with this every season. In fact, you could argue that this year's attrition to the NFL Draft isn't as bad as it could have been with running back Najee Harris and receiver DeVonta Smith, among others, coming back for another year. Still, this team is losing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, first-round receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, offensive lineman Jedrick Wills, linebacker Terrell Lewis and safety Xavier McKinney. That's a large chunk of the passing attack and a lot of defensive production. Oh, well. Guess Alabama will have to reload again with more blue-chip players.|
|The Tigers are actually huge winners overall when it comes to the draft. They get quarterback Trevor Lawrence for (presumably) one more year and running back Travis Etienne stunned everyone when he announced he was coming back. However, while the losses of receiver Tee Higgins, linebacker Isaiah Simmons and cornerback A.J. Terrell aren't equatable to a mass exodus, their departures are, pound for pound, maybe the biggest on this list. Higgins, the team's leader in yards (1,167) and touchdowns (13) was a Houdini at catching the ball; even by Clemson's standards of wide receiver wizardry he was absurd. And Simmons might be the biggest loss of any underclassmen when you consider what a Swiss-army knife he was for the Tigers defense. He could rush the passer, tackle in space, play pass defense and line up in one of about four or five positions. He's the type of loss you don't even really make up in the aggregate.|
|Remember when Georgia showed up to its second straight Sugar Bowl with, like, three kids stacked on top of each other hidden in a trench coat and playing offensive tackle? Well, apparently those kids need to go on scholarship because the Bulldogs beat Baylor. And I guess it's a good omen moving forward, because this team loses a lot of key underclassmen to the NFL Draft. Among them are quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D'Andre Swift, tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson and guard Solomon Kindley. That's a large chunk of the offense. Georgia's defense should be incredible again next year, but will a new-look offense under coordinator Todd Monken be able to pick up the slack?|
|Low-key, the Hawkeyes lose some big names early to the draft. None are bigger than pass rusher A.J. Epenesa, who led the team with 11.5 sacks. The next-closest player in that category was freshman linebacker Joe Evans with four. Gone, too, is safety Geno Stone, one of Iowa's more overall disruptive playmakers on the back end. The departure of junior running back Toren Young isn't the worst, but offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs is a likely first-rounder. For the second straight year, Iowa is among the more underrated teams in big-time departures.|
|It might be easier to list off the players LSU didn't lose. Top running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire? Gone. Receiver Justin Jefferson? Gone. Safety Grant Delpit? Gone. Linebacker Patrick Queen? Gone. On and on it goes with nine early entries, and that's not even including Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, but you get the point. Kudos to coach Ed Orgeron for building a national championship team despite having more than his fair share of doubters. Now comes the next, Saban-ish step: keeping it there in the wake of massive personnel and coaching attrition.|
|Man, did 2019 not go as planned for the Hurricanes, and now they're losing top running back (DeeJay Dallas), one of their top wideouts (Jeff Thomas), one of their better pass rushers (Jonathan Garvin) and top cornerback (Trajan Bandy). Overall, the Canes are probably less hurt on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Cam'Ron Harris and tight end Brevin Jordan are studs; they just need better quarterback play. But Garvin and Bandy are big losses off of one of the ACC best defenses loaded with a lot of seniors.|
|Notre Dame will be without leading rusher Tony Jones Jr., who may be best remembered for embarrassing Iowa State's defense on an 84-yard touchdown run in the Camping World Bowl. It'll also lose top tight end Cole Kmet, the team's No. 2 in receptions, yards and touchdowns, as well as seasoned defensive back Alohi Gilman. The nice thing is quarterback Ian Book is returning, but he's losing some big pieces around him to both graduation and early departures.|
|The Aggies don't lose many underclassmen -- just two -- but quarterback Jordan Love and linebacker David Woodward are as impactful as they come. No, Love didn't have an amazing 2019, but he also didn't have a lot of help around him and, frankly, he tried to make things happen a bit too often. He's still a legit talent. And Woodward was an All-American who would have led the team in tackles for two straight years if he hadn't missed half of this past season with an injury. So, yeah, the Utes lost their two best players off a 7-6 team. Not great.|
|Even with underclassmen leaving early, it's not often you have a team lose its quarterback, leading rusher and top receiving target in one fell swoop. But the Huskies are going to be without quarterback Jacob Eason who, despite his ups and downs, has undeniable arm talent. They'll also be without tight end Hunter Bryant who led the team with 825 yards and running back Salvon Ahmed who rushed for just over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. The silver lining is freshman Richard Newton, who was second on the team with 10 rushing touchdowns, is coming back. In all, Washington is not in terrible shape in 2020 on offense, but the departing trio is significant, nonetheless.|
|The Badgers don't lose a lot of underclassmen in quantity, but lord have mercy do they lose a lot of quality. Running back Jonathan Taylor will only leave Madison as the program's No. 2 all-time leading rusher behind Ron Dayne. Receiver Quintez Cephus was the top wideout last season and a big part of the pass-catching group over the last few years. Center Tyler Biadasz won the Rimington Trophy and started 41 career games. Overall, the interior of Wisconsin's line loses three starters. Even for the Badgers, reloading in the ground game is going to be a challenge.|
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