The deadline for college football underclassmen to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft has expired, and it looks as though a record number of underclassmen will be hoping to turn pro. Although the NFL will confirm an official number in the coming days, the unofficial count currently sits at 111 underclassmen making themselves eligible for this year’s NFL draft. The 111 underclassmen is a new record for the NFL draft.
According to The Sporting News, there are 111 confirmed underclassmen who have made the decision to forgo their senior seasons for a shot at being drafted in the NFL. One of the last players to make his plan clear was Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, who publicly declared for the draft on Saturday. National champion LSU alone has nine players who have declared early for the NFL draft to go along with its graduating seniors.
With 111 confirmed players declaring early, the NFL draft will have at least 100 underclassmen on the board for the third consecutive season. Last year, the NFL reported a total of 103 underclassmen for the 2019 NFL draft. The previous season saw 106 players make themselves eligible for the draft. The 106 players in 2018 was a record number of underclassmen for the NFL draft. A total of 95 underclassmen were reported by the NFL in 2017.
The obvious concern with such a large number of underclassmen declaring for the draft is the growing number of underclassmen who may not be drafted. Last year, 49 players who declared early went undrafted. With only so many draft picks to go around, the more underclassmen that declare makes it more difficult for some players to get drafted. That doesn’t necessarily mean the player made a mistake turning pro, as undrafted players will still find a number of landing spots in undrafted free agency. And for some players, that may end up being the better path than being drafted in the sixth or seventh round because they would then get to choose from potential landing spots.
This year’s total could have been higher, but decisions by players like running backs Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State (HERE), Travis Etienne of Clemson (HERE), and Najee Harris of Alabama held the record number down, relatively speaking.
If you are looking for something to entertain you while checking in on some spring college football games, the 2020 NFL Draft will take place from April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
The pool of running backs heading off to the NFL just got a little deeper. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor announced he is declaring for the NFL draft and leaving Wisconsin a year early to do so. Taylor shared his decision with a video message share don his Twitter account Friday evening.
Taylor leaves Wisconsin having left a mark at a program that has been known for running backs. Taylor won back-to-back Doak Walker Awards in 2018 and 2019 and rushed for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, with 2,003 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns this past season. In his three years at Wisconsin, Taylor rushed for 6,274 yards and 50 touchdowns. He will now head off to the NFL as one of the top running back prospects available for any NFL team in search of a running back answer.
Taylor joins a talented running back pool heading off to the NFL that also includes early entrants J.K. Dobbins of Ohio State and D’Andre Swift of Georgia. Swift announced his NFL decision earlier in the day.
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.