On Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, the NFL Draft will kick off a three-day event that bridges the gap between college football and the NFL on an annual basis. The Arizona Cardinals will have the No. 1 pick in the draft and there is a possibility Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray could be the top pick of the draft. If that proves to be the case, then the Sooners will pull off one of the rarest feats in the NFL Draft by having the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft two years in a row.
Last year saw Baker Mayfield leave Oklahoma to be the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft of the Cleveland Browns. If Murray is selected as the first player overall by the Cardinals (or any other team that moves up to the top spot), it will mark the first time since 1968 and 1969 when the top pick in the draft was selected out of the same school in consecutive seasons. USC’s Ron Yary was the top pick of the 1968 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and running back O.J. Simpson was the top pick of the draft by the Buffalo Bills the following season. That remains the first and only time the top picks in consecutive drafts have come from the same school.
If Murray does go first overall, some history will also be made that will separate this feat from the one previously accomplished by USC. This would also mark the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive seasons. Granted, it hasn’t been too often the same school had back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, to begin with, not to mention having two within the same four or five-year period, but it’s been a good couple of years for the Sooners with Mayfield and Murray.
It’s also worth a reminder both Mayfield and Murray were transfer players as well, adding another layer to the improbability of the rare milestone Oklahoma is potentially in line to pull off this week. Naturally, this would be quite a piece of recruiting propaganda for Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, who was named head coach of the Sooners just two years ago following the retirement of Bob Stoops.
Between now and the start of the NFL Draft, we are going to be drowning in hot takes about whether or not Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston will be the first quarterback drafted in April. Maybe there is a right choice, maybe they will both be great or maybe they will both be draft busts. We simply just do not know, but that will not stop anyone from having an opinion on the topic.
That includes Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Leave it to a Heisman finalist to weigh in on the subject about a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, right? Gordon, a guest on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday, was given his chance to say which he thinks will be the first quarterback drafted by an NFL team. Gordon thinks it will be Winston.
“He’s a ballplayer, I love the way he plays,” Gordon told Dan Patrick. “I like his swagger.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft has passed. A total of 86 players will leave school early in hopes of pursuing a career in the NFL. That number is down from last season’s record 102 players leaving early. Has the momentum of players leaving early for the league slowed, or will this be a one-year blip on the radar?
According to Mike Florio over at Pro Football Talk,
According to the source, there were six official first-round evaluations this year, and all six players declared. Of 20 second-round evaluations, 14 entered the draft.
Of the 149 underclassmen who were evaluated, 123 of them were advised to stay in school (which apparently is the advice given to players not pegged for rounds one or two). Thirty-three of them ignored the advice.
It should be noted that players actually have until tonight to change their minds and return to school to retain their final year of eligibility. How many do that remains unknown, but the numbers this year will be down from last season.
The past couple f years saw more and more players leaving early, which was thought to be a product of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement in place making it more lucrative to get in the NFL as early as possible in order for players to maximize their earning potential as quickly as possible. But with many more players declaring for the NFL, fewer roster spots were becoming available, let alone draft picks.
Some players leaving early are sure to be first round selections, like Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. While there were a number of players still leaving for the NFL, some of the bigger headlines tin recent weeks has focused on the players returning, including Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, LSU avoiding its annual mass departure of a handful of juniors, Alabama holding on to a couple defensive standouts and Stanford retaining some key players.
As a selfish college football fan I wish they would all stay, but no player should be scolded for attempting to make it at the next level when they feel the time is right.
Houston wide receiver Deontay Greenberry could be leaving on quite the high note. Greenberry will reportedly enter the 2015 NFL Draft, passing on his final year of eligibility at Houston.
Greenberry, a junior from Fresno, California, had a bit of a down 2014 season as a result of some erratic and inconsistent quarterback play this season, but he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Houston’s furious rally against Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl and he led the Cougars in receiving in the bowl win. Greenberry entering the 2015 draft may come as a slight surprise given his numbers this season, but the potential was seen with a 1,202-yard season with 11 touchdowns in 2014.
Following the Armed Forces Bowl The Houston Chronicle reported Greenberry had not yet made a decision on his future. Greenberry had 841 yards and six touchdowns in the 2014 season.
Penn State is already losing one starter on the offensive line early to the 2015 NFL Draft. Now the Nittany Lions are losing a starter on the defensive side of the line. Deion Barnes will forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft in 2015, with his degree already in hand.
“I talked with my family and we believe it’s best for me to move forward and forgo my fifth year,” Barnes said in a statement released by Penn State on Tuesday evening.
Barnes started every game for Penn State this season and leaves the program with 30 starts. The former Big Ten Freshman Of The Year wraps up his collegiate career with six sacks this season and 98 career tackles and 14.0 career sacks.
Yesterday Penn State announced offensive lineman Donovan Smith will also skip his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
Penn State is now looking to return 15 starters on offense (8) and defense (7) next season, which will be another season of some depth concerns as the program works its way back to a full roster under lifted scholarship reductions.