NFL Draft Early Entries: Teams Hit Hardest
Last Saturday was the final date that underclassmen could declare for the 2012 NFL Draft. In total a record 61 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.
Later this week, I will give my analysis of whether or not it was a good move/bad move for each player.
Teams Hit Hardest:
Miami lost six players to the draft which was two more than any other school and clearly HC Al Golden has some rebuilding to do in Coral Gables on and off the field. The Canes lost leading rusher Lamar Miller who ran for 1,272 yds (5.6) and 9 TD’s, their leading receiver in Tommy Streeter who had 46 rec (17.6) and 8 TD’s and their best OL in Brandon Washington while also losing some talented defensive players who were suspended parts of this past year. Golden looks like he is bringing in a solid recruiting class to help but it will be tough to replicate the type of production the offensive players had this year.
LSU not only lost the national title rematch to Alabama but they also lost four underclassmen to the draft led by potential Top 10 pick CB Morris Claiborne. WR Reuben Randle had a breakout season while leading the Tigers with 53 rec (17.3) and 8 TD’s while WR Russell Shepard had a disappointing year after being suspended at the start of the season. The Tigers do have plenty of depth as WR Odell Beckham, Jr had a great frosh campaign and naturally the Tigers have arguably the top defensive playmaker in the country in CB Tyrann Mathieu returning.
Alabama won the national title but also lost their offensive star in RB Trent Richardson who had a Heisman-caliber season with 1,679 rush yds (5.9) and 21 TD’s. Richardson figures to be the first RB taken so it was a smart move by him. The Crimson Tide also lost LB Dont’a Hightower who returned to his ’08 form (before the injury) while leading with 85 tkls, 4 sks and 7 tfls while CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick figures to be a 1st-rounder. I wouldn’t fret too much if I were a Bama fan though as the Tide appeared in the same blog last year prior to taking home the crystal ball.
The Oregon Ducks may have received the most surprising news with QB Darron Thomas deciding to throw his name in the upcoming draft this past weekend. The Ducks were already losing arguably the best RB in school history in LaMichael James but clearly the Thomas news puts them on the list. The Ducks do have capable replacements at RB with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas while QB Bryan Bennett has impressed in his limited action.
Stanford not only loses arguably the best prototypical NFL QB prospect of the last decade in Andrew Luck but they also lose two of the best OL in the entire country in OG David DeCastro and OT Jonathan Martin. Luck had probably the best QB career in Stanford history and that is saying a lot from a school that had Jim Plunkett and John Elway and clearly the Cardinal figure to take a step or two back from the 23-3 record they have produced in the last two years.
Baylor and Boston College lost two of the most important players to any one team in Baylor’s Heisman Winner QB Robert Griffin III and Boston College’s Nagurski winner LB Luke Kuechly.
Other schools that lost multiple players included: Arizona St (2), Boston College (2), Michigan St (2), South Carolina (2), USC (2) and Virginia Tech (2).
Complete List of Underclassmen Leaving Early:
|Vontaze Burfict||LB||Arizona St.|
|Brock Osweiler||QB||Arizona St.|
|Robert Griffin III||QB||Baylor|
|Max Holloway||DE||Boston College|
|Luke Kuechly||LB||Boston College|
|Josh Robinson||CB||Central Florida|
|Stephen Hill||WR||Georgia Tech|
|Bryce Brown||RB||Kansas St.|
|Jerel Worthy||DT||Michigan St.|
|Edwin Baker||RB||Michigan St.|
|Fletcher Cox||DT||Mississippi St.|
|Donte Paige-Moss||DE||North Carolina|
|Terrell Manning||LB||North Carolina St.|
|Justin Blackmon||WR||Oklahoma St.|
|Bobby Massie||OT||Ole Miss|
|Ronnie Hillman||RB||San Diego St.|
|Stephon Gilmore||CB||South Carolina|
|Alshon Jeffery||WR||South Carolina|
|Darrell Scott||RB||South Florida|
|Jewel Hampton||RB||Southern Illinois|
|Robert Turbin||RB||Utah State|
|Jayron Hosley||CB||Virginia Tech|
|David Wilson||RB||Virginia Tech|
|Chris Givens||WR||Wake Forest|
Teams with Best Returnees that Turned down NFL:
USC got the surprising news in December that QB Matt Barkley despite being projected to be a Top 10 pick in the 2012 Draft will return next year. Despite losing OT Matt Kalil early and being probation stricken with scholarships, the men of Troy with their top skill position players returning along with Barkley and an improved defense led by returning S TJ McDonald figure to be in the preseason AP Top 3 next year and are clearly one of the favorites to win the national title.
Georgia lost TE Orson Charles but returns breakout star LB Jarvis Jones who led the SEC with 13.5 sacks and also DT John Jenkins, DE Abry Jones, S Bacarri Rambo with LB’s Cornelius Washington and Christian Robinson also announcing their return for their senior seasons. Add that with the return of QB Aaron Murray and you have a Georgia team that figures to be not only the favorite to win the SEC East but also one of the favorites to win the SEC which means a great shot at the national title.
Notre Dame loses their best statistical WR in school history in Michael Floyd to graduation but received great news that two-time leading tackler LB Manti Te’o and TE Tyler Eifert will return to South Bend next season. HC Brian Kelly and the Irish off two underachieving seasons will no doubt need the two playmakers as they face one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2012 with road games at Oklahoma, at USC and at Michigan St with a home game vs Michigan and neutral site games vs Miami, Fla at Soldier Field and Navy in Ireland sprinkled in.
Florida St lofty preseason expectations in 2011 may have been a year premature as they did suffer through a ton of injuries including QB EJ Manuel and ended up starting four freshman OL in the Champs Sports Bowl. Next year not only do they return DE Brandon Jenkins and CB Greg Reid who bypassed the draft but also HC Jimbo Fisher looks to be bringing in yet another great recruiting class. After a decade of mediocrity in Tallahassee the Seminoles look to be regaining some momentum in becoming a yearly Top 10 contender.
List of Significant RS Sophomores/Juniors who announced their return.
|Ray Ray Armstrong||