Underclassmen enter draft in record numbers

The number of underclassmen declaring for the draft continues to rise; the number selected isn't keeping pace. That means more underclassmen than ever will be disappointed in April.

With 30 of the NFL's 32 organizations all looking toward free agency and the draft in hopes of getting where the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens find themselves this week, one of the things they can be thankful for is a bumper crop of underclassmen who have declared for the 2013 draft – a record-setting 73 players.

Allowing underclassmen to enter the NFL draft has brought an annual infusion of elite talent into each draft, since many of the top picks are underclassmen. It's not unusual to see seven or eight of the top 10 picks and more than half of the first round be underclassmen.

But, while being a young blue-chip talent has its perks, more and more underclassmen keep foregoing their final season or two of college without a guarantee of being drafted. Over the last five years, while the number of players has continued to grow, the number actually drafted has remained effectively the same.

Over the last five years, the number of underclassmen that have declared for eligibility in the draft has risen each year from 2009-13 (46-53-56-65-73). But, the number of players actually taken has remained constant, significantly dropping the percentage of rookies who get selected.

In 2009, 89 percent of the players who declared were drafted. In 2010, it fell to 87 percent – a drop, but not a concern for players convinced they would get drafted. In 2011, it dropped to 77 percent, another significant drop. Last year, it fell to 68 percent. With a record number of underclassmen out there, it may turn out to be a record number that take the plunge and go undrafted.

With such a glut of young talent, the competition after the draft is over may be as fierce as it has been in years.

Here is the list of the declaring underclassmen (from the Honey Badger to the spell-check prompting Jose Jose).

Quarterback – Tyler Bray (Tennessee).

Running Back – Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State), Giovani Bernard (North Carolina), Knile Davis (Arkansas), Michael Ford (LSU), Jawan Jamison (Rutgers), Stefphon Jefferson (Nevada), Eddie Lacy (Alabama), Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), Bradley Randle (UNLV), Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State), Spencer Ware (LSU), Cierre Wood (Notre Dame).

Wide Receiver – Keenan Allen (Cal), Stedman Bailey (West Virginia), Duron Carter (Ohio State), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee), Ace Sanders (South Carolina), Kerry Stills (Olahoma), Marquess Wilson (Washington State), Robert Woods (USC).

Tight End – Zach Ertz (Stanford), Gavin Escobar (San Diego State), Jordan Reed (Florida), Dion Sims (Michigan State), Levine Toilolo (Stanford).

Offensive Tackle – David Bakhtiari (Colorado), Chris Faulk (LSU), Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Menelik Watson (Florida State) Guard – Alvin Bailey (Arkansas).

Center – Travis Frederick (Wisconsin).

Defensive Tackle – Sharrif Floyd (Florida), Kwame Geathers (Georgia), Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State), Jose Jose (Central Florida), Bernie Logan (LSU), Brandon Moore (Texas),, Sheldon Richardson (Missouri), Darrington Sentimore (Tennessee), Akeem Spence (Illinois).

Defensive End – William Gholston (Michigan State), Joe Kruger (Utah), Corey Lemonier (Auburn), Maponga Stansly (TCU), Barkevious Mingo (LSU), Sam Montgomery (LSU), Demontre Moore (Texas A&M), Bjoem Werner (Florida State).

Linebacker – Dwayne Beckford (Purdue), Jelani Jenkins (Florida), Jarvis Jones (Georgia), Kevin Minter (LSU), Alec Ogletree (Georgia), Tom Wort (Oklahoma).

Defensive Back – David Amerson (North Carolina State), Terrence Brown (Stanford), Mike Edwards (Hawaii), Matt Elam (Florida), Jajuan Harley (Middle Tennessee), Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma), Tyrann Mathieu (LSU), Dee Milliner (Alabama), Eric Reid (LSU), Greg Reid (Florida State), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Nickell Robey (USC), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Tharold Simon (LSU), Steve Williams (Cal).

Punter – Brad Wing (LSU).

Many of the future stars of the NFL come from these underclassmen ranks. Underclassmen typically dominated the top of the draft and are scattered throughout and snapped up in the later rounds. This year will be no exception. With so many players from the SEC (11 from LSU alone), there will be no shortage of viable game film to evaluate those players with – seemingly every SEC game was televised somewhere.

All of the names on that list are convinced they're going to hear theirs called draft weekend. Many will have that wish met. More will have it come later than hoped. For some, there will be heartbreak late Saturday afternoon of draft weekend. For now, hope springs. In the spring, it may be different.


  • In what will clearly become a story in Vikings Country over the next couple of weeks is that three long-time Vikings will square off with a Super Bowl ring at stake, including a pair of the Class of 1998 draft picks that are likely in their final seasons. When Randy Moss fell to the Vikings in the first round of the 1998 draft, his impact was sudden and immediate. In the sixth round of that draft, the Vikings took Matt Birk, who would become the face of the franchise on the offensive line. In addition, former Viking Bryant McKinnie has a chance to get the ring that has eluded him since being another former first-round pick of the Vikings. For now, the focus is the battle of the Harbaugh Family, but, as the storylines break, don't be surprised to hear Moss come out of his shell to talk about his former Vikings teammates who, to date, have been denied a Super Bowl title – for Birk and McKinnie, it will be their first Super Bowl appearance.

  • The Ravens and 49ers making the Super Bowl will greatly impact the Pro Bowl on Sunday. Baltimore had six players on the Pro Bowl roster that now need to be replaced. Worse yet (or better yet if you don't care for the Pro Bowl), San Francisco had eight players on the roster that will be replaced, including three linebackers and two safeties.

  • With Matt Ryan suffering a shoulder injury, one can only imagine how many players would have to turn down the invitation for Christian Ponder's phone to ring.

  • The NFL pulled off a rare gaffe when, in pimping out its 2nd Annual NFL Honors show, it ran a promo ad that showed several action shots of players. For example, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning were shown when the voiceover guy asked in a low growl who would win the MVP award. However, one of the categories was the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. If you watched the commercial, they showed Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas and Jason Witten. When they came back from commercial, Jim Nantz proclaimed that the finalists would be announced at halftime – after the promo showing the three finalists.

  • NFL analyst Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Jets and new general manager John Idzik might target Tarvaris Jackson as a free agent quarterback to compete with Mark Sanchez. Fill in your own punch line here.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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