2019 NFL Draft Underclassmen Tracker: Who should declare, who should go back to school

We've reached the point of NFL Draft season when Twitter announcements from underclassmen deciding to leave school early will be daily occurrences. 

This is your go-to tracker for all the announcements, and I've thrown in whether or not I believe each top prospect should enter the 2019 NFL Draft or stay in school for another season. Also, you'll notice a trend with participation in bowl games.

(Must-read note: I will never, ever fault a prospect for leaving the unpaid ranks of college football to pursue a career in the NFL, which, you know, pays its players. Anything written below (or anytime before any draft) regarding my thoughts about whether or not a prospect should stay in school is solely predicated on how I feel that choice will impact his long-term success at the professional level. Nothing else.)

Quarterbacks 

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon 

Billed as the top quarterback prospect by many before the season -- he was my No. 3 signal-caller prospect, ranked No. 21 overall -- Herbert had somewhat of a disappointing campaign at Oregon. His completion percentage dropped nearly eight points, and his yards-per-attempt went from 9.6 in 2017 to 8.0 this season.

Just about every year there's a prospect -- typically a quarterback -- who we all would love to see return for one more season. In this day and age, that prospect rarely does. Herbert seems like an exception. He grew up in Eugene as an Oregon fan. At 6-foot-6 with a live arm and plenty of athleticism, the sky is the limit for him. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. He just needs more fine-tuning with downfield touch and decision-making. If he enters the 2019 NFL Draft, good for him. Get money. But I think he'd serve himself best by returning to school. 

Status: Undecided. Playing in bowl game

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Haskins exploded onto the scene in 2018 and will take the trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist. He set Big 10 records in his first season as the starter for Ohio State and displayed many franchise-quarterback qualities in the process. However, Haskins has just 13 starts to his name at this point, and a sizable chunk of his gaudy production came via short passes and yards after the catch from the Buckeyes' myriad of impressive athletes. 

Against pressure -- most namely in the Penn State game -- Haskins, well, looked like an inexperienced starter, dropping his eyes and looking lost inside the pocket. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. He probably would be smart to take advantage of a relatively weak quarterback class in 2019 and declare. But if he stays in Columbus for another season, Haskins will squarely be in the conversation to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2020. He needs to get the experience of playing in high-pressure situations -- both literally and figuratively -- and show the ability to thrive. 

Status: Undecided. 

Tyree Jackson, Buffalo

At 6-7 and 245 pounds with plenty of athleticism and a big arm, the Bulls' quarterback won the MAC Player of the Year award in 2018, as he accounted for 34 total touchdowns. A downfield-strike specialist, Jackson has connected with future NFL'er Anthony Johnson often over the past two seasons. 

In terms of reading and dissecting coverages or moving through progressions, Jackson simply isn't there yet. He throws with good, not great accuracy to the short-and-intermediate portions of the field and forced the football a few too many times this year. His pocket-management skills are still lacking too. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. Jackson is the classic "he needs one more year" quarterback prospect. With No. 1 overall pick type physical tools but a somewhat unrefined game, Jackson should hang in Amherst, New York for one more season and work on the nuances of playing the quarterback position.  

Status: Undecided. 

Running Back 

Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Hill battled some injuries in 2018 and carried the ball 158 times compared to 268 rushes in 2017 and even 206 carries as a freshman. He averaged the highest yards-per-carry figure of his college career as a junior (5.9) and still scored nine touchdowns on the ground. Arguably the most effortless athlete at the running back spot in his class, Hill is a loose-hipped, multi-cut spark plug with good long speed to hit the home run. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Hill plays running back, first of all, and already has 681 touches on his collegiate resume. Not a crazy-high amount, but another year in Stillwater, and he's looking at more like 900 touches before he hits the NFL. Heck, Hill looked ready for the NFL last season and is the ideal type of back for the pros today. He flourishes in space and has the requisite vision to find it when running between the tackles. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

David Montgomery, Iowa State

Montgomery has been a central figure of Iowa State' rise in the college football world over the past three seasons. He has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with double-digit touchdown figures. A shifty, low-center-of-gravity runner with power and outstanding contact balance, Montgomery made the most out of what was typically average-at-best blocking in front of him and was a nightmare to tackle. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Montgomery has certainly proved to be a high-caliber running back prospect on his 665 touches for the Cyclones, despite a relatively low career yards-per-carry average (4.7). He's not going to create many 50-plus yard runs in the NFL, but his elusiveness is tremendous, and he has the size to bang between the tackles. 

Status: Undecided

Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic 

I wrote on Singletary and labeled him as the "premier sleeper running back prospect" thanks to his violent cutting ability, good vision, and speed in the open field. While he was used as a feature back at Florida Atlantic, he may be a "No. 2" at the NFL level, although the league is smartly moving toward more prominent roles for smaller "air backs."

Should he stay or go? Go. Devin ... head to the NFL. You've toted the rock 714 times during your tenure at Florida Atlantic and racked up 4,287 yards (6.0 yards per) along with 66 rushing touchdowns in three seasons. We get it. You're a super-talented runner. See you on Sundays.

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft

Wide Receiver

N'Keal Harry, Arizona State

No-brainer here. Harry has been an alpha receiver since his true freshman season in Tempe in 2016. He's everything you'd want in a chain-moving, high-pointing, sneaky-athletic outside receiver. He had over 1,000 yards in 2017 and 2018 and he scored 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Should he stay or go? Go. Harry was the No. 7 receiver recruit in the nation in 2016, so an early jump to the NFL was in the cards for him. He made a smooth, quick transition from high school to college and should do the same in the pros. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

A.J. Brown, Ole Miss

Brown has been "the guy" for the Rebels in each of the last two seasons, as he complied 160 catches for over 2,500 yards with 17 touchdowns in 2017 and 2018 combined. A strong, yards-after-the-catch specialist with impressive ball skills on deep throws, Brown is the prototypical modern receiver.   

Should he stay or go? Go. After he proved his 1,252-yard campaign of a year ago was no fluke with over 1,300 receiving yards this season, Brown needs to start getting paid for his services on the football field. As a junior he showcased his abilities from the slot. He played and produced on the perimeter more frequently than what had been usual after Metcalf's mid-season injury. The slot receiver is a starting position anyway in today's NFL, but the "slot only" label freaks some people out for a reason unbeknownst to me. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft

Kelvin Harmon, NC State

Harmon has one of the most well-rounded skill sets in what is a loaded receiver class. At 6-3 and 215-ish pounds, the Wolfpack's No. 1 wideout has been a consistent and sometimes super-explosive wideout for NC State over the past two seasons. He registered eight contests with 125 or more receiving yards. 

A fine athlete, Harmon dominates in the back-shoulder game and in traffic. He's also smooth enough to win at the intermediate level over the middle and fast enough to stretch some defenses. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Harmon is ready for the NFL. He has a pro body and has demonstrated the necessary skills to be a jump-ball specialist on the outside in the pros. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

Metcalf is a freaky specimen. At 6-4 and 225-ish pounds, he runs like a deer and flashed some scary high-pointing ability during his two years of major production at Ole Miss. 

He has deceptive wiggle after the catch and is, as you can probably imagine, a load to bring to the turf. His injury may have precipitated his decision to enter the NFL ... and if he's cleared by doctors during the pre-draft process, he should be a first or second round pick. 

Should he stay or go? Go. While he won't bring loads of experience to the next level, he was a big, explosive playmaker during his time at Ole Miss. If Metcalf gets cleared by doctors during the pre-draft process, he should be a first or second round pick.

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game (still nursing neck injury).

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

A tall, somewhat lanky but feisty downfield threat, Butler has an amazing "my ball" mentality and refuses to be tackled by the first defender who approaches on many of his catches. He averaged 17 yards per catch with seven touchdowns in 2017 and followed that up with 1,126 yards and nine scores -- some of the highlight variety -- in 2018. 

Should he stay or go? Go ... but this isn't a slam dunk. I've seen enough from Butler to warrant a pick in one of the first three rounds. But by entering what is a loaded receiver class in 2019, he increases the chances of being drafted later, which, historically increases the chances he won't be a focal point of the team that selects him. If he returns to Iowa State, he'll be in the spotlight next season and will likely garner widespread first-round consideration in 2020. 

Status: Undecided.

Tight End 

Noah Fant, Iowa 

Iowa's quietly become a strong contender for "Tight End U," and the breakout season of George Kittle for the 49ers has certainly helped the school's candidacy. Fant isn't a plodding, in-line blocker with a sprinkle of passing-catching skill. He's a springy athlete who almost appears to be a sizable receiver when he's running down the seam. 

Should he stay or go? Go. This tight end class isn't bad, but he's not throwing his name into the ring with a group that features multiple first-rounders like we saw in 2016 when O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku were picked in Round 1. Speaking of Engram, Fant's game and abilities have a lot of similarities to the Giants tight end.

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

Kaden Smith, Stanford

Smith is the latest in a long, tall line of Stanford tight ends with the skills needed to repeatedly make difficult catches in traffic. As a sophomore in 2017, he had 23 catches for 414 yards and five scores. While he nearly doubled his catch total in 2018 and had 635 yards receiving, he only snagged two scores and has missed Stanford's two most recent games with injury. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. It was going to be difficult for Smith to hit the 18-yards-per-grab plateau he reached in 2017, and he proved to be a legitimately threatening tight end as a junior with more volume to his stat line. But the decreased touchdown numbers and injury at the end of the regular season give him minimal momentum heading into draft season. With another productive campaign next year, he could be a first-round pick in 2020. 

Status: Undecided. 

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

If you watched any Missouri game over the past two seasons, you were bound to notice two things: Drew Lock has a hose, and Okwuegbunam can really run. The redshirt sophomore has been a menace after the catch in 2017 and 2018 for the Tigers and has a whopping 17 touchdown grabs in 18 games.  

Should he stay or go? Stay. Yes, Okwuegbunam looks like an NFL-caliber prospect and has the strong hands and speed to stretch the seam at the next level. But he averaged just 10.8 yards-per-grab in 2018 and only scored six touchdowns after he had 11 as a redshirt freshman. Beyond that, he's currently dealing with an injury. At 6-5 and 260 pounds with explosiveness, he should be on the first or second round radar in 2020. 

Status: Undecided.

Irv Smith Jr., Alabama 

It wasn't easy filling O.J. Howard's shoes, but Smith Jr. has done an admirable job this season in what's a much more pass-catcher friendly Alabama offense than what Howard had during his time in Tuscaloosa. Smith Jr. will enter the College Football Playoff having made 38 grabs for 648 yards with seven touchdowns this season. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. This is a difficult one, because Smith has the size, twitchiness, and speed to be a mismatch tight end at the NFL level. However, he has one year of high-level production at the collegiate level and turned 20 in August. Another year to add strength and blocking prowess to his game would make him a more well-rounded prospect who could find himself in the first or second round of 2020. 

Status: Undecided.

Offensive Line

Jonah Williams, Alabama

After locking down the right side of the Crimson Tide line as a true freshman in 2016, Williams moved to the left side in 2017 and had a good season dealing with a myriad of talented SEC pass-rushers. I actually thought he was more dominant as a freshman than sophomore, but he's been a brick wall in 2018 blocking for Tua Tagovailoa and Co. 

Should he stay go? Go. Williams is a super-strong technician ready to stymie any counter moves thrown at him. He's somewhat susceptible to a fast, inside move but is almost always moving his deceptively quick feet in his kick slide and is rarely caught lunging out of control. 

Status: Undecided.

Greg Little, Ole Miss

Little was a top recruit, has been the Rebels' starting left tackle for three seasons and has held down the position admirably despite the program's recent downturn. He has serious NFL tackle size, length, and athleticism. Little seems like a classic boom or bust prospect. 

Should he stay or go? Go. This isn't obvious because despite his long stretches of stellar pass-protection, Little is relatively far from a finished product. I don't think he'd be foolish to return to school to get another year to scrub out the waist-bending tendency he's showed this season. 

Status: Entering the 2019 NFL Draft

Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin

Yeah, this is a redshirt sophomore from Wisconsin I'm writing about here. Biadasz has been so good in his first two seasons in Madison, people wouldn't think he's crazy to jump to the pro level. And he'd likely be among the top centers in the 2019 class. Seriously. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. While he's displayed a spectacular combination of power, balance, and quick feet to move laterally, Biadasz would do himself a lot of favors by staying in college to get stronger and more experience against pass-rushing moves. He does look like a rare "early entry" as a redshirt junior from Wisconsin after the 2019 season. 

Status: Undecided.

Defensive Line

Nick Bosa, Ohio State

Bosa has been the best defensive player in college football for two seasons now. He has a special blend of athleticism, power, and pass-rushing moves ... similar to his brother. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Duh. He is nursing a core muscle injury but should be good to go for some type of pre-draft workout. After that, if everything looks to be firing on all cylinders, Bosa should be the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game (still nursing a core injury).

Ed Oliver, Houston 

Oliver was a top recruit and shockingly decided to stay home to go to Houston, spurning Alabama and other gigantic programs. He lived up to the billing for the Cougars with 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in three seasons. 

Should he stay go? Go. Of course. Oliver is the most athletically gifted defensive tackle to enter the NFL since Aaron Donald came into the league in 2014. He's incredibly dynamic off the ball and a speed-to-power rusher with some pass-rushing moves. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

Quinnen Williams, Alabama

Since Bosa went down with injury in September, Williams has been the best defensive player in college football in 2018 ... as a redshirt sophomore. A deceptively smooth athlete with a developed array of pass-rushing and block-shedding skills to go along with good power, Williams is much more advanced than his experience would indicate. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Instead of earning the "he's beat up" label many Crimson Tide defenders receive before entering the draft, Williams would be smart to strike while the iron is hot, and he's not a defensive lineman who simply overwhelms his competition with size or power. He's ready to be a disruptive pass-rusher in the NFL. I think another year at Alabama would likely do him more harm than good.

Status: Undecided.

Clelin Ferrell, Clemson 

Ferrell has been a backfield destroyer during his time at Clemson. He will enter the College Football Playoff with 48 tackles for loss and 26 sacks over the past three seasons for Dabo Swinney. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, Ferrell isn't solely a power-rusher. He usually beats offensive tackles with speed, bend, and extended arms. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Ferrell isn't a flawless prospect but has the size, length, and springiness in his first step to be a first-round pick in 2019 and ultimately mature into a stellar three-down player at the next level. 

Status: Undecided. 

Jachai Polite, Florida

Polite had a respectable 2017 in a limited role with 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. As a junior, he was a demon on the edge for the Gators with 11 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. He is the ideal stand-up outside linebacker who can get after the passer with explosiveness.

Should he stay or go? Go. Polite isn't a three-down, edge-setting defensive end, but there's certainly a role for him at the next level as a pass-rushing specialist. I thought Polite scaled back his motor a bit in 2018 and wasn't especially consistent, but when he played with reckless abandon his flattening ability and occasional hand use were tremendous. 

Status: Undecided.

Brian Burns, Florida State

Burns is a long-limbed, lanky edge-rusher who flourished on a disappointing Florida State defense in 2018. He had 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss to go along with 52 total tackles and three forced fumbles. He wins with explosiveness off the ball, flashes of impressive bend, and an inside move. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. Hear me out on this. Burns is not undersized ... he's just underweight. After solely winning on his athleticism alone in his first two seasons for the Seminoles, Burns started to show some counter moves and hand use as a junior. With another offseason to get bigger and stronger, Burns would have a complete arsenal as a pass-rusher and would probably garner top 10 or even top overall pick hype in 2020. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft

Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

Once arguably the most prized recruit in the nation, Lawrence has looked the part from the moment he stopped on campus at Clemson. Blessed with monstrous size and freakish athleticism, Lawrence has clogged the middle for the Tigers for three full seasons now, and he's skilled enough to beat interior offensive linemen en route to the quarterback. 

Should he stay or go? Go. At his size -- 6-4, 350 pounds -- with his advanced hand work, Lawrence is ready to be the extremely rare pass-rushing nose tackle at the NFL level. 

Status: Undecided. 

Rashan Gary, Michigan

Gary landed in Ann Arbor has the No. 1 recruit -- regardless of position -- in the entire country and had a solid albeit unspectacular career with the Wolverines. At times he looked like the best player on the field but did have surprising stretches of disappearance. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. It's a moot point now, but Gary still has to learn the nuances of playing on the defensive line. He's been so far ahead athletically for so long, he hasn't developed a variety of pass-rushing moves, and he's kind of a defensive line tweener at 6-5 and 283 pounds. Right now, he's not bendy enough to be a full-time edge-rusher and probably not powerful or heavy enough to have sustained success on the inside. 

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Won't play in bowl game

Linebacker 

Devin White, LSU 

White exploded in 2017 with 133 total tackles and followed that up with a 115 tackles in 2018. At 6-1 and 240 pounds, White is a blur from sideline to sideline and a train as a blitzer. 

Should he stay or go? Go. White needs to fine-tune his play-recognition skills and clean up his tackling consistency, but he's shown enough to be a first-round pick and a starting middle linebacker in 2018. With him ... think Myles Jack. 

Status: Undecided. He will play in bowl game

Mack Wilson, Alabama

The true junior has quietly become a key piece of yet another suffocating Alabama defense in 2018. The Crimson Tide have begun to shift toward smaller, faster, coverage-based linebackers, and despite his thumping skills against the run, Wilson fits the new mold at his position. 

Should he stay or go? Go. While Wilson might not be a lock to go in the first round, his skill set is where it needs to be for him to become a reliable three-down player at the next level.  

Status: Undecided.

Secondary 

Greedy Williams, LSU

Williams is a tall, super-fluid corner with impressive ball skills and speed for days. He had six interceptions in 2017 and two picks to go along with nine pass breakups in 2018. 

Should he stay or go? Go. I don't know what another year of stymieing opposing receivers would really do for his long-term success at the NFL level. Williams needs to be challenged by bigger, faster, quicker pass-catchers at the NFL level to continue to develop as a corner. He could be the first player at his position off the board in April.

Status: Entering 2019 NFL Draft. Will not play in bowl game

Deionte Thompson, Alabama

Like his teammate Quinnen Williams, Thompson went from infrequently used role player in 2017 to bonafide star this season for the Crimson Tide. Thompson has a versatile skill set thanks to his explosive athleticism. 

Should he stay or go? Stay. Remember, this is solely based on what another year at the college ranks would do for chances to succeed at the NFL level. He'll likely battle with Washington's Taylor Rapp to be the first safety off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft, but Thompson needs to display more production and game-changing ability. He likely wouldn't take too much punishment as a safety with one more year at Alabama. 

Status: Undecided.

Taylor Rapp, Washington 

After a four-pick freshman season in 2016, many figured Rapp would be a three-year player for Chris Petersen at Washington. He had somewhat of a disappointing sophomore year but returned to form in 2018 with two picks, five tackles for loss, and four pass breakups to go along with an assortment of thudding tackles flying down from the secondary. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Rapp has a more refined game than Thompson but teams may prefer the upside of the Alabama safety, which could lead to the latter being picked earlier. 

Status: Undecided. 

Bryron Murphy, Washington 

Only a redshirt sophomore, Murphy has emerged as a standout in a Huskies defensive backfield oozing with NFL talent. He had two picks ans seven pass breakups in 2017 which he then followed up with four picks and 13 passes defended in 2018. 

Should he stay or go? Go. Advocating a redshirt sophomore to make the jump is somewhat rare, but Murphy is somewhat of a rare prospect. He's the twitchiest corner in major college football, has plenty of speed, and clearly has the awareness to play the football as its arriving. His football instincts are impeccable too. Not a big corner, Murphy can lock down the slot position, a task that's becoming more important each season in the NFL. 

Status: Undecided. 

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