The national title game is less than a week away and underclassmen are now pouring into the 2016 NFL draft. Here’s the latest word on those choices as well as other notes that may effect the draft. Update: January 5th
Back on November 9th I mentioned a jailbreak of underclassmen from Ohio State would enter the draft. And though I may have used a poor term the expectation has come to fruition.
I’m now told its very likely we’ll see large numbers of underclassmen from Clemson and Alabama enter the draft once the national title game is completed Monday evening.
Its been known for a while Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson and cornerback Mackensie Alexander are planning to enter the draft as is safety Jayron Kearse. Add to that list two more defenders as cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and defensive end Kevin Dodd are also expected to enter the draft as is tight end Jordan Leggett.
Alexander could end up as the first cornerback selected in the draft but Tankersley is no slouch and fits as a second day selection. Lawson, whom I’m told is really banged up (knees, shoulder) could slide into the late part of round one while Dodd is another second day pick.
Leggett, who looks like a big possession receiver, is also a second day pick if he works out well prior to the draft.
I’ve not heard anything definite on the plans of Carlos Watkins, more of a middle round choice but a player with definite NFL potential
From the defensive side of the ball Alabama will lose linemen A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and possibly defensive back Eddie Jackson. I’m told defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is leaning towards entering the draft while the feeling is linebacker Rueben Foster will return for his senior season.
On offense running back Derrick Henry is expected to enter and the chances are tight end O.J. Howard will leave as well.
Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker is considering entering the draft and has been going through the process but has been told its best to stay in school despite terrific production.
Everybody loves a sleeper come draft time and the name of Justin Zimmer from Ferris State has been quietly spoken about in scouting circles.
Unmentioned by scouts prior to the season, Zimmer posted 81 tackles, 13 sacks and broke up 5 passes this season. The thee time Academic All American who measures 6-feet/3-inches and a shade over 290-pounds, has reportedly timed under 4.8-seconds in the forty and completed 46 reps on the bench press last summer.
The hope is Zimmer gets a last minute invite to one of this months All Star games but draft junkies best start watching film on this dominant defender and keep an eye on his pro-day workout.
The safety class in April’s draft was improved by the addition of Su’a Cravens and the position will likely be strengthened with even more underclassmen talent. I’m told two more juniors could be headed for the draft after receiving their grades from the advisory committee.
Word is Vonn Bell of Ohio State is giving signs he will enter the draft and his grade from the advisory committee, which will be a top 60 ranking, will cinch the deal.
The other junior at the position who could be headed for the draft is Florida’s Keanu Neal. I’m told Neal is leaning towards returning to Florida for his senior season but many feel once he receives his grade from the committee, which will reflect a top 60 selection, he too could be off for the NFL. I was blown away by Neal’s sophomore film and entering the season felt he was one of the most underrated defensive backs in the nation.
Staying in Gainesville, there’s been a lot of back and forth as to whether or not Gators receiver Demarcus Robinson is entering the draft as ESPN reported he would leave for the NFL while the player has denied the report. I’ve heard two consistent claims from various sources the past month; 1) Robinson is leaning towards entering the draft 2) the feedback thus far from scouts has been Robinson would be making a mistake if he enters the draft. Hence the confusion and lack of a final decision to this point is understandable.
Earlier I tweeted today’s Idaho Potato Bowl could be the final college game for Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil. I first mentioned this back on November 9th and the grades I’ve received on the junior range anywhere from rounds three through six. People around Vigil are encouraging him to enter the draft after today’s game but the player himself is still undecided. If Vigil chooses to opt for the draft I’m told he’s likely to post fast times and terrific testing marks at the combine.
I initially reported in September that Christian Hackenberg would enter the draft and all signs point to this becoming reality very soon. A close source told me earlier this week it’s the best decision for the quarterback as the situation at Penn State is becoming untenable for Hackenberg and its time for him to move on.
Previous reports stated junior linebacker Scooby Wright had been meeting with agents. Sources tell me the Arizona product has in fact chosen who will represent him and the official announcement will be made soon after the New Mexico Bowl next Saturday. Where does Wright end up? The majority of people tell me Wright is no better than a mid-to-late round prospect, something I totally agree with.
Last week I reported Kamalei Correa of Boise State was been interviewing agents and I’m now being told the defensive end/outside linebacker will enter the draft.
I continue to be told Stanford tight end Austin Hooper will enter the draft. A few people have said the red-shirt sophomore entered the season with the intent of leaving for the NFL after the 2015 campaign.
It always interesting to watch what happens at LSU given the number of underclassmen who have entered the draft from that program the past few years.
Even though scouts have suggested he stay in school another season I’m told offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins is very likely to enter the draft. Sources also tell me center Ethan Pocic is entertaining thoughts of making the jump but the final decision is a long way off.
I’ve been getting mixed signal on the decisions for linebacker Kendell Beckwith and cornerback Tre’Davious White. Conventional wisdom all season long had both players entering the draft but I hear that’s not a definite. I’m told the decision to keep Les Miles as head coach has Beckwith and White reconsidering.
Two receivers from the MAC have requested grades from the advisory committee and are exploring their next level status.
Roger Lewis of Bowling Green has been speaking with agents and also has advisers to help him make the decision. Corey Davis of Western Michigan is also doing a bit of the same. Both prospects rank as middle round selections but are very much undecided to this point, though it seems Lewis is the likely one to enter the draft.
People may remember two years ago I wrote about defections via early entry to the draft or transfers from the Cal program as Sonny Dykes had alienated many of the players he inherited from Jeff Tedford. It seems Dykes current battle with the school’s administration is having a similar effect and I’ve been told through an upperclassmen the situation is not good.
One of those affected is Jared Goff and those close to the situation tell me its 99% the quarterback enters the draft. As I reported weeks ago the junior has a team of people fully engaged in vetting agents and setting up meetings. Many inside his circle believe it makes no sense for the highly rated quarterback to return to Cal and get pulverized next season the way he has this year. I would expect an official announcement that Goff will enter the draft soon after Cal’s bowl game.
I’m also told Goff’s favorite target may be headed to the draft with him.
Receiver Kenny Lawler (47 receptions, 583 yards, 10 TDs) has been speaking with agents and its expected he declares for April’s draft. Many I’ve spoken with compare Lawler to former Cal receiver Marvin Jones, the fifth round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012.
Staying out west Kamalei Correa of Boise State has been interviewing agents. The defensive end/outside linebacker is receiving second day grades and at this time sources tell me its very likely he enters the draft.
The news for Correa’s teammate is not as positive.
Area scouts stamped Rees Odhiambo with second round grades prior to the ankle injury he suffered in late October, which ended his season. I’m told his recent injury plus previous issues with the other leg will push Odhiambo into the last day of the draft.
Washington State receiver Gabe Marks was ready to enter the draft then suffered a significant ankle injury during the season finale against Washington. Sources tell me it could take several months for the ankle to fully recover and there’s a chance Marks would not be ready to workout prior to the draft. As a result he’s expected to return to Wazzu for his senior season.
According to west coast insiders San Diego State cornerback Damontae Kazee is expected to enter the draft. Recently named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Kazee intercepted 7 passes this season and broke up another 7 throws besides posting 66 tackles.
Indiana guard Dan Feeney will ask the advisory committee for a grade and is considering the draft.
Several weeks ago, when I reported Yannick Ngakoue would enter the draft, I mentioned his teammate Quinton Jefferson may also follow and the more I speak with sources the more it seems likely to happen. Jefferson, who I’m told is married with children, looked like a dynamite prospect in 2013 before missing almost all of 2014 with injury then playing out of position at defensive tackle this year.
Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones has asked the advisory committee for his draft grade but sources tell me they believe whatever the result Jones will enter the draft.
Keep an eye on the situation surrounding his teammate, Will Redmond.
Technically a senior, Redmond was suspended by the NCAA the first year and a half he spent at Mississippi State for receiving “preferential treatment.” The way it’s been explained Redmond was given a discount on a car he purchased. I’m told the school is fighting to have his suspended time reinstated as they understandably feel the punishment was too harsh. If they succeed coach Dan Mullen will do a full court press to keep the highly rated cornerback for another season.
Mullen is reportedly already re-recruiting Da’Runnya Wilson in the attempt to get the receiver to stay for his senior season.
The big three prospects at cross town rival Mississippi including tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and receiver LaQuon Treadwell, are all entering the draft from what I’m told. As reported last week tight end Evan Engram is considering entering the draft while defensive back Tony Conner is waiting on his draft grade before making a decision.
Other juniors I’m told who are seriously considering making the jump include Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall, Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson and Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons with some telling me Harvey-Clemons is definitely leaving for the draft.