FanPost

Record Broken - 57 Underclassmen Declare for draft

The old record of 56 underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft has been broken this year with 57 underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft. This group also includes 3 sophomores, which is actually a good amount. One must wonder why this surge lately of so many players wanting to go pro earlier now over the past few years. It used to fluctuate around the forties and occasionally jump up to the 50s, But now we are consistently threatening the 60 mark. It would seem the entire NFL is in for a youth movement. See the list after the jump...

So let's take a look at the list and then I'll talk about some of the prospects that I really like out of the list, especially the ones you might not know so much about:

Player

Position

College

Class

1.

Alvester Alexander

RB

Wyoming

JR

2.

Dwayne Allen

TE

Clemson

JR

3.

Edwin Baker

RB

Michigan St.

JR

4.

Mike Ball

RB

Nevada

JR

5.

Justin Blackmon

WR

Oklahoma St.

JR

6.

Michael Brockers

DT

L.S.U.

SO

7.

Vontaze Burfict

ILB

Arizona St.

JR

8.

Orson Charles

TE

Georgia

JR

9.

Morris Claiborne

CB

L.S.U.

JR

10.

Fletcher Cox

DT

Mississippi St.

JR

11.

David DeCastro

OG

Stanford

JR

12.

Marcus Forston

DT

Miami (FL)

JR

13.

Stephon Gilmore

CB

South Carolina

JR

14.

Chris Givens

WR

Wake Forest

JR

15.

Robert Griffin III

QB

Baylor

JR

16.

Jewel Hampton

RB

Southern Illinois

JR

17.

Cliff Harris

CB

Oregon

JR

18.

Dont'a Hightower

ILB

Alabama

JR

19.

Stephen Hill

WR

Georgia Tech

JR

20.

Ronnie Hillman

RB

San Diego St.

SO

21.

Max Holloway

DE

Boston College

JR

22.

Jayron Hosley

CB

Virginia Tech

JR

23.

LaMichael James

RB

Oregon

JR

24.

Alshon Jeffery

WR

South Carolina

JR

25.

Chandler Jones

DE

Syracuse

JR

26.

Matt Kalil

OT

USC

JR

27.

Dre Kirkpatrick

CB

Alabama

JR

28.

Peter Konz

C

Wisconsin

JR

29.

Luke Kuechly

ILB

Boston College

JR

30.

Ronnell Lewis

DE

Oklahoma

JR

31.

Andrew Luck

QB

Stanford

JR

32.

Terrell Manning

OLB

North Carolina St.

JR

33.

Jonathan Martin

OT

Stanford

JR

34.

Jonathan Massaquoi

DE

Troy

JR

35.

Bobby Massie

OT

Ole Miss

JR

36.

Whitney Mercilus

DE

Illinois

JR

37.

Lamar Miller

RB

Miami (FL)

SO

38.

Brock Osweiler

QB

Arizona St.

JR

39.

Donte Paige-Moss

DE

North Carolina

JR

40.

Eric Page

WR

Toledo

JR

41.

Nick Perry

DE

USC

JR

42.

Bernard Pierce

RB

Temple

JR

43.

Dontari Poe

DT

Memphis

JR

44.

Chris Polk

RB

Washington

JR

45.

Rueben Randle

WR

L.S.U.

JR

46.

Riley Reiff

OT

Iowa

JR

47.

Trent Richardson

RB

Alabama

JR

48.

Josh Robinson

CB

Central Florida

JR

49.

Mohamed Sanu

WR

Rutgers

JR

50.

Darrell Scott

RB

South Florida

JR

51.

Tommy Streeter

WR

Miami (FL)

JR

52.

Darron Thomas

QB

Oregon

JR

53.

Robert Turbin

RB

Utah St.

JR

54.

Olivier Vernon

DE

Miami (FL)

JR

55.

Brandon Washington

OG

Miami (FL)

JR

56.

David Wilson

RB

Virginia Tech

JR

57.

Jerel Worthy

DT

Michigan St.

JR

Now that you have seen the final list of underclassmen for the 2012 NFL Draft, lets talk about a few of the players I like at need positions for us. Some of them you might not be totally familiar with as they will be middle to late round selections as of right now. These players either have a lot of upside, or are some of the players to watch when the combine comes around for some surprising measurables that they may have.

Michael Brokers - DT - LSU
6' 6" 305 lbs

Michael_brockers_lsu_v_mississippi_uawnblnsynnl_medium
This kid had about the same build and look to him that J.J. Watt did last year and projects to be probably the best 3-4 End in the draft. He is only a sophomore and just turned 21 on December 21. He isn't just 305, but a solid 305 and is just a physical freak. You may complain about his numbers and that he only had 2 sacks as a sophomore and should have stayed in school. Not to make comparisons, but to show that sophomores normally don't dazzle with numbers Ndamakong Suh only had 3.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman and 1 as a sophomore (. That was before he posted 7.5 sack and 12 sack in his junior and senior year respectively to finish his career at Nebraska. J.J. Watt also posted 4.5 sacks as a redshirt sophomore DE for the Wisconsin Badgers. Naturally a Defensive end should have more sacks than a DT. He wasn't exactly eye popping with 7 sacks as a DE his junior season, but look at what he became. Of course he dazzled at the combine. And say what you want about how he should have stayed in school to improve his game. I'm sure that the employers of Larry Fitzgerald, Aldon Smith, Lesean McCoy, Michael Crabtree (finally coming into his own), Jermichael Finley, and Willis McGahee over the years might have something to say in favor of it. All of those guys were sophomores that entered the draft and were projected high. I think scouts have a pretty good track record when they say a sophomore is really good.

Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU
6' 0" 185
4a830_morris-claiborne-p1_medium

I don't need to say much about this guy because you all know who he is. He came into college as a wide receiver but was moved to corner against his expectations. He may only be 6' tall but he has some long arms for his height, which is what makes it seem like he plays taller than he is. We will see what his vertical actually is. He is a good kick returner too, which we definitely need, especially since I think we should trade and get something for Felix Jones as I don't see us re-signing him after 2012. I don't see us having a shot at him without trading up though. I have heard people say they are against that because we need all of our picks this year, but let me just say something about that, because it kind of bothers me. If you saw my post about the best defenses in the league, they either have at least one impact player at all three levels of defense (DL, LB, DB), have a core of solid players there that that consistently play either slightly above average or better, or an abundance of players at all positions but one of them (Eagles have horrible LBs). I think it is better to grab one impact player than try and grab a bunch of guys and hope they end up being solid. Besides, you can coach solid, but impact, you can't coach. And that is what Morris Claiborne is and it puts an impact player in the only area that we don't have an impact player or a core of solid players (defensive backfield). Say what you will, but that is my take, but all of that will depend on what happens in free agency. END RANT.

David Decastro - OG - Stanford
6' 5" 310 lbs.

David-decastro_medium

Wes Bunting is on record stating that this guy is the surest thing in the draft after Andrew Luck. We would all love to have a plug and play guy that can step in for us and contribute the way that Tyron Smith did for us last year and improve an area of our team that, right up there with safety, has been a deficiency for us for years now. The guy is a beast, a mauler, and has some nasty to him from what scouts and their reports have stated. Would be a really good pick. Will the Cowboys go this direction or sign a free agent like Carl Nicks and choose to go somewhere else in the draft? We shall see but you can't not like this guy.

Jayron Hosley - CB - VTech
5' 10" 171 lbs.
Bruce_taylor_jayron_hosley_virginia_tech_v_kt4ftt2ltlel_medium

Jayron Hosley had a bit of a down year compared to what he was able to do last year. He is kind of small, but a sound technician from what I have seen and heard. Just watch him on sports science and you will see what I mean. The guy has a really good back pedal and an incredible quickness and breaking speed on the ball to add to the great ball skills that he has. This is why he had 9 interceptions in 2010, a good reason that QBs probably stayed away from him this year in 2011, and why I call him a "backfield bandit". If there is anyone that I think will dazzle at the combine and make people (like Mike Mayock) go back and check the tape again, it will be this kid. Keep an eye out for Jayron Hosley.

Dre Kirkpatrick - CB - Alabama
6' 3" 192 lbs.

Dre_kirkpatrick_robert_bolden_penn_state_v_y7jw_qdpdqfl_medium

Personally I would like to see this kid add a little more onto his frame as I think that 192 isn't enough for a 6' 3" corner. I would like to see him be up around 210 - 220. With some NFL Conditioning and training he should be able to manage that though I think. Best tackler in the draft and a physical corner to boot. Not necessarily known for his ball skills but good awareness for where the ball is and can get a hand on it. Needs to be better at catching the ball though if it is in his zone. Maybe Jerome Henderson will be able to help with this. We shall see.

Peter Konz - C - Wisconsin
6' 5" 315 lbs
Peter-konz_medium

Wisconsin O-lineman, need I say more. He is one of the few players to have earned an 8.0 or higher from Wes Bunting in this draft. The biggest knock against this guy has been his height and that he is a little taller than you would like at Center because it just comes natural that it will be easier for defenders to get under you and get leverage. However, right along with this Wes Bunting and others credit him for his great ability to bend, which counters this, but the height issue still lingers. Very sound though and made the calls for the best college Oline in the country. Big upgrade from Costa. I want this guy but what will it take?

Johnathan Massaquoi - DE - Troy
6' 2" 270 lbs.
L4914077_medium

At first glance, not the picture that you want to just show someone. You laying on top of another man. However, when put into context that that is the Ohio Bobcats QB between a rock and a hard place (Massaquoi sacked him 2.5 times that game), then it is something you hope to see plenty of. Not going to be an early round pick, but I liked some things that I saw from him on tape. When rushing the passer, he has a really quick first step and pretty quick around the edge. He actually looked like another Trojan I have become very used to seeing, and even "WARES" the same number as him. Wouldn't it be awesome if this guy really panned out and we had Trojans starting on both OLB spots rushing the passer? Pretty easy nickname for that combo, just call them the Trojans. Anyway, probably won't get a high grade but he has a good combine, you could see this guy creep up some boards. He also rushed from the strong side, so he already has experience playing there and the responsibilities that come with it. He even seemed decent dropping back into coverage, except one play where he looked completely lost as there was not a single player within 10 yards of him. So kudos and some knocks on him, but watch him in the combine and see what happens. If nothing else, he could be a solid back-up rusher on the strong side while Victor Butler backs up Ware.

Josh Robinson - CB - UCF
5' 10" 192 lbs.
Dsc_0084_jpg_medium

I think this kid has a good build for his height at 192 lbs standing 5' 10". The tape I have seen shows him as faster than what reports state right now (that he is just under 4.5). He seems like one of the fastest guys on the field. That will all be put to rest here at the end of February at the NFL Scouting combine though. He will be a middle round prospect but a guy to definitely keep an eye on. If he goes in the 4th round my bet is that he will be pretty good. Why you ask? Brandon Marshall and Asante Samuel both came out of UCF and were drafted in the 4th round.

Brandon Washington - OG - Miami (Fla.)
6' 4" 320 lbs.
Tumblr_lcavmyk3ot1qczihz_medium

What I like about this kid is his experience playing both tackle and guard in college. Do I want him playing tackle in the NFL, no, and I'll say it again. However, a big guy more known for his run blocking as a tackle but still the pass protecting ability to play on the edge projects as a pretty good guard prospect to me. Leonard Davis was this exact same thing, except he played tackle for Arizona until he came to Dallas where he became a guard and was sent to multiple pro-bowls because of it. Now, we all know he fell off, but that happens with age. A younger guy to provide the same type of stuff would be great I think. Not rated as well as other OG in the draft but I think he may turn some heads and surprise in the coming months or when he enters training camps in the NFL.

Those are the prospects that really stick out to me in the draft as far as the underclassmen this year. I do like some of the running backs that are on the list, but we don't have a CURRENT need for one as of right now. If we traded Felix Jones like I suggested then we will need one though. I like Lamar Miller if things ended up that way or especially David Wilson if you want a guy to provide exactly what Felix Jones did and maybe a little more. But that is my take. Now well will probably see an abundance of the mock drafts now that we know exactly who will be in the draft. Also contributing to that is that there are only 4 teams left to see where they will be drafting in April at the end of the round, far outside of the predictable realm of mock drafts. And the off-season mayhem continues...

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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