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NFL Draft Early Entries: Teams Hit Hardest

Last Saturday was the final date that underclassmen could declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. In total 53 players declared early and while some teams were hit hard by the early entries others were more lucky with several players deciding to return for another year. Today I will break which teams were hit hardest and which teams have the best returnees that turned down the NFL.

In Wednesday’s Blog I will give my analysis of whether or not it was a good move/bad move for each player.

Teams Hit Hardest:

Alabama lost three of his best players as expected with DT Marcell Dareus, WR Julio Jones and  RB Mark Ingram announcing they would forego their senior seasons. Naturally Ingram’s replacement will be Richardson who has ran for more than 1,400 yds the last two years  and Nick Saban’s defenses seem to reload each year so finding a replacement for Dareus might not be a huge obstacle. The biggest loss might be WR Jones who had more rec (78) than the next two players combined.

Auburn
only lost two players but they were huge. QB Cam Newton had arguably one of the best individual season’s in college football history on his way to winning the Heisman and leading the Tigers to the national championship while DT Nick Fairley was this year’s Ndamukong Suh in the way he took over football games on the LOS and should easily be a top 5 pick in the draft. Clearly their replacements will find it very tough to replicate the type of production they had this year.

Similar to Auburn, the Georgia Bulldogs lost only 2 players but they were arguably the two best players on their team in WR AJ Green and OLB Justin Houston. Green was suspended the first 4 gamws of this year and the Bulldogs offense struggled mightily without him while Houston adapted well to the new 3-4 defensive scheme and was one of the nation’s leaders in TFL’s and QBH’s.

Illinois
lost 3 key players that allowed them to get a bowl win for the first time in a decade. DT Corey Liuget anchored the Illini defense that was much improved this year while LB Martez Wilson helped them get consistent pressure on the QB. On offense, RB Mikel Leshoure may have been one of the more surprising players in the country this year with 1,704 yds (6.0) and 17 TD’s and has been climbing up on many draft boards.

Missouri
not only lost its leader of the team in QB Blaine Gabbert but also their main weapon on the DL in Aldon Smith. There is talk now that Gabbert might be the first QB taken this year while Smith is finally healthy after being nicked up early in the year.

With the firing of Dave Wannstedt, three Pittsburgh players surprisingly declared early in WR Jonathan Baldwin, FB Henry Hynoski and RB Dion Lewis. Only Baldwin though looks to be a late 1st-early 2nd round prospect while Hynoski and Lewis may be leaving more due to the scheme change that the Pitt offense will undergo this year under new HC Graham.

Other schools that lost multiple players included:  Clemson (2), Georgia Tech (2), LSU (2), UCLA (2), USC (2), Utah (2), Virginia Tech (2) and Wisconsin (2).

Complete List of Underclassmen Leaving Early:

Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama
Julio Jones, WR Alabama
Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Lawrence Guy, DT Arizona State
Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas
Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
Cam Newton, QB Auburn
Shane Vereen, RB California
Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Jamie Harper, RB Clemson
Jordan Todman, RB Connecticut
Taiwan Jones, RB Eastern Washington
Will Hill, S Florida
Jamel Hamler, WR Fresno St
A.J. Green, WR Georgia
Justin Houston, LB Georgia
Nick Claytor, OT Georgia Tech
Jarrard Tarrant, S Georgia Tech
Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
Mikel Leshoure, RB Illinois
Martez Wilson, LB Illinois
Tandon Doss, WR Indiana
Tyler Sash, S Iowa
Randall Cobb, WR Kentucky
Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Stevan Ridley, RB LSU
Torrey Smith, WR Maryland
Brandon Harris, CB Miami (Fla.)
Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
Aldon Smith, DE Missouri
Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina
Kyle Rudolph, TE Notre Dame
Jacquizz Rogers, RB Oregon St
Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh
Henry Hynoski, TE Pittsburgh
Dion Lewis, RB Pitttsburgh
Tori Gurley, WR South Carolina
DeAndre Brown, WR Southern Miss
Thomas Keiser, LB Stanford
Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple
Aaron Williams, CB Texas
Akeem Ayers, LB UCLA
Rahim Moore, S UCLA
Tyron Smith, OT USC
Jurrell Casey, DT USC
Brandon Burton, CB Utah
Sealver Siliga, DT Utah
Zane Parr, DE Virginia
Ryan Williams, RB Virginia Tech
Darren Evans, RB Virginia Tech
Robert Sands, S West Virginia
J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin
John Clay, RB Wisconsin

Teams with Best Returnees that Turned down NFL:

Stanford: There may have been no bigger surprise this offseason to date than Luck announcing his return to the Cardinal next year when he was the clear favorite to be the #1 pick in the draft. Even with the loss of HC Harbaugh to the NFL, with Luck’s return the Cardinal figure to be in the pre-season top 10. Without him they would not have been in anyone’s top 30 or 40.

Oklahoma who was my pre-season #1 this past year will probably start the 2012 season ranked #1 with QB Landry Jones, WR Ryan Broyles, LB Travis Lewis and S Quinton Carter all announcing their return to Norman next year.

Oklahoma St may have been the biggest surprise team in the country this year despite being one of the most inexperienced teams in the country. Next year along with the Sooners they may be the favorites in the new Big 12/10 with the announced return of WR Justin Blackmon to go along with QB Brandon Weeden

Even though Alabama lost 3 players to the NFL, it could have been much worse as LB’s Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw announced they were coming back and S Mark Barron who clearly will be the #1 S prospect next year also returns with one of the best OG’s in the country too in Barrett Jones.

List of Significant RS Sophomores/Juniors who announced their return.

Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
Landry Jones, QB Oklahoma
Nick Foles, QB Arizona
LaMichael James, RB Oregon
Chris Polk, RB Washington
Montel Harris, RB Boston College
Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma St
Juron Criner, WR Arizona
Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
Michael Egnew, TE Missouri
Ben Jones, OC Georgia
Mike Brewster, OC Ohio St
David Molk, OC Michigan
Ryan Miller, OG Colorado
Barrett Jones, OG Alabama
Cordy Glenn, OG Georgia
Matt Reynolds, OT BYU
Nate Potter, OT Boise St
Riley Reiff, OT Iowa
Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina
Jared Crick, DT Nebraska
Marcus Forston, DT Miami, Fl
Don’t’a Hightower, LB Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, LB Alabama
Chris Galippo, LB USC
Tank Carder, LB TCU
Travis Lewis, LB Oklahoma
Janoris Jenkins, CB Florida
Trevin Wade, CB Arizona
Mark Barron, S Alabama
Kenny Tate, S Maryland

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  • http://twitter.com/ND35USC0 Jerry Noonan

    Galippo is NFL-caliber?

  • Scottjduval

    Add Nigel Bradham, OLB, FSU to that list of players returning.

  • SenorD

    Phil, Trevin Wade of Arizona? I think you really meant to list Juron Criner of Arizona.

  • Ironeagle24

    Juron was on their you dummy!
    Wade is a beast! Corner is the hardest position, and when he kills this year, you will be on the bangwagon