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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:

Player Position School
Dre’ Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
Dont’a Hightower LB Alabama
Trent Richardson RB Alabama
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
Dwayne Allen TE Clemson
Orson Charles TE Georgia
Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech
Whitney Mercilus DE Illinois
Riley Reiff OT Iowa
Bryce Brown RB Kansas St.
Morris Claiborne CB LSU
Michael Brockers DT LSU
Rueben Randle WR LSU
Russell Shepard WR LSU
Dontari Poe DT Memphis
Olivier Vernon DE Miami
Marcus Forston DT Miami
Brandon Washington OL Miami
Lamar Miller RB Miami
Aldarius Johnson WR Miami
Tommy Streeter WR Miami
Jerel Worthy DT Michigan St.
Edwin Baker RB Michigan St.
Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi St.
Mike Ball RB Nevada
Donte Paige-Moss DE North Carolina
Terrell Manning LB North Carolina St.
Ronnell Lewis DE/OLB Oklahoma
Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St.
Bobby Massie OT Ole Miss
Cliff Harris CB Oregon
Darron Thomas QB Oregon
LaMichael James RB Oregon
Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers
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
David DeCastro G Stanford
Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
Andrew Luck QB Stanford
Chandler Jones DE Syracuse
Bernard Pierce RB Temple
Eric Page WR Toledo
Jonathan Massauoi DE-OLB Troy
Damaris Johnson WR Tulsa
Nick Perry DE/OLB USC
Matt Kalil OT USC
Robert Turbin RB Utah State
Jayron Hosley CB Virginia Tech
David Wilson RB Virginia Tech
Chris Givens WR Wake Forest
Chris Polk RB Washington
Peter Konz C Wisconsin
Alvester Alexander RB Wyoming

By Conference:

Conf
#
ACC
15
SEC
12
Pac 12
11
Big 10
5
Big 12
4
Big East
3
CUSA
3
Mountain West
2
WAC
2
MAC
2
Sun Belt
1
FCS-MVFC
1

 

By Position:

Position #
Quarterbacks 4
Running Backs 14
Wide Receivers 11
Tight Ends 2
Offensive Line 7
Defensive Line 10
Linebackers 7
Defensvie Backs 6

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.

Player
Position
School
Barrett Jones
OL
 Alabama
Tyler Wilson
QB
 Arkansas
Emory Blake
WR
 Auburn
Andre Ellington
RB
 Clemson
Brandon Jenkins
DE
 Florida St
Greg Reid
CB
 Florida St
Jarvis Jones
LB
 Georgia
Bacarri Rambo
S
 Georgia
Arthur Brown
LB
 Kansas St
Ray Ray Armstrong
S
 Miami, Fl
Zaviar Gooden
LB
 Missouri
Mike Glennon
QB
 NC State
Rex Burkhead
RB
 Nebraska
Tyler Eifert
TE
 Notre Dame
Manti Te’o
LB
 Notre Dame
John Simon
DE
 Ohio St
Landry Jones
QB
 Oklahoma
John Boyett
S
 Oregon
Gerald Hodges
LB
 Penn St
Kawann Short
DT
 Purdue
Khaseem Greeene
LB
 Rutgers
Devin Taylor
DE
 South Carolina
Chase Thomas
LB
 Stanford
Alex Okafor
DE
 Texas
Sean Porter
DE/OLB
 Texas A&M
Matt Barkley
QB
 USC
TJ McDonald
S
 USC
Geno Smith
QB
 West Virginia
Montee Ball
RB
 Wisconsin

 

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