– Now that Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter has announced on his twitter page he’s declared for the draft, despite denying our report from last week, we can tell you what we’re hearing about a few other Volunteers underclassmen. Sources from the program tell us they believe quarterback Tyler Bray will enter the draft, confirming our initial report from November 13th. League insiders tell me Bray’s off the field issues will raise several red flags. The consensus from league sources is Bray would be better off returning to school. We hear Cordarrelle Patterson is on the fence as far as his future plans and it may be a while before the receiver makes an official announcement.
– From College Station, Texas, sources told me last week linebacker/defensive end Damontre Moore “is likely gone” and will enter the draft. Moore was listed as 7th on our draft board at SI.com in October and has since improved his ranking.
– Surprisingly we hear highly rated pass protector Luke Joeckel is undecided as of now as is his bookend teammate Jake Matthews.
– From the state of Florida we’ve heard once again that Seminoles cornerback Xavier Rhodes will enter the draft. So to will Gators defensive lineman Shariff Floyd according sources close to the situation. Florida safety Matt Elam is going through the evaluation process and though he has made no final decision those with knowledge tell me he’ll likely opt for the draft.
– It looks as though the 2013 NFL Draft will receive a much needed boost of talent at the running back position. Several sources have confided both Giovani Bernard of North Carolina and Eddie Lacy of Alabama will enter the draft. Bernard grades as the top back on our draft board but sources say there are some medical issues from his past that Bernard must hurdle.
– Word in the draft community is offensive tackle D.J. Fluker of Alabama will also enter the draft.
– We understand Justin Hunter/WR/Tennessee has been researching agents, a sure sign he will enter the draft.
– We hear linebackers Khalil Mack of Buffalo and Kyle Van Noy of BYU will wait to receive grades from the advisory committee before making a final decision on whether or not to enter the draft.
– Van Noy may not be the only BYU underclassman to opt for the draft as we were told receiver Cody Hoffman is seriously entertaining thoughts of leaving for the NFL.
– Bennie Logan/DT/LSU has been stamped as a potential first round pick by area scouts we spoke with. Word is he’s likely to enter the draft.
– Several sources have told us Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma and Matt Elam from Florida are both expected to enter the draft, which would add talent to a safety class NFL scouts already like.
– Looking for a sleeper at the cornerback position? Keep the name Robert Alford of Southeastern Louisiana on the tip of your tongue. We really like what we saw of him on film and from conversations apparently so do league scouts. I’ve been told a top 45 calling of his name is a possibility for Alford.
– The whispers are getting louder that Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison will opt for the draft at the end of the season.
– Insiders also tell me that its apparent Marcus Lattimore will also enter the draft despite the recent injury suffered by the South Carolina running back.
– We expect to hear sooner rather than later from Akeem Spence/DT/Illinois, that he will enter the draft.
– We’ve heard from several people that Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson is likely to enter the draft.
– A source close to the situation told me the firing of Gene Chizik all but assures defensive end/outside linebacker Corey Lemonier leaves for the NFL.
– Earlier we reported Georgia linebacker Alexander Ogletree was leaning towards staying at Georgia. Sources have since told us otherwise as Ogletree is rethinking his options and will probably enter the draft. Why? We’re told Ogletree may not elevate his draft stock all that much by returning to UGA in 2013. Add in the fact the Bulldog defense will be graduating a tremendous amount of top rated defensive talent to the NFL.
– Sources told me Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been making a full court press to get talented defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to stay one more season. We hear Hankins has listened to what Meyer is saying yet has told people around him its “95%” he’ll enter the draft.
– We’ve also been told that Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby will consider entering the draft if he receives first round consideration. Roby ranks high with us and is presently graded second on our list of cornerbacks.
– The belief from those around the situation is Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan will enter the draft. Lewan’s quarterback, Denard Robinson, received an invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl.
– Sources have told us Minnesota junior defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman will likely enter the draft. The former tight end has developed at his new position and scouts love his upside potential.
– Several people have told me quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Justin Hunter will both enter the draft. In fact one source described it as a “foregone conclusion,” which I found surprising. Sources also said character issues could raise red flags on Bray. These same sources said present day word is receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is likely to stay.
– We hear the chances are very likely Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will enter the draft. Size is one of the knocks on Murray and he understands he won’t get much bigger (taller) over the next year.
– It looks as though the cornerback class for next April’s draft will receive an injection of much needed talent from the ranks of the underclassmen. Sources have told me Xavier Rhodes of Florida State will enter the draft and Ryan Logan of Rutgers is heavily leaning towards opting for the draft after the season.
– The situation at the running back position is a little murkier. Scouts have not been thrilled with the performance of the top rated ball carriers this season. We hear Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina is expected to enter the draft but scouts consider him a mid-to-late first rounder at best.
– The two names that can change the dynamic of the position include Giovani Bernard of North Carolina and Jawan Jamison of Rutgers. Several people we spoke with think highly of Bernard, with one trusted source claiming he could be the first back selected if he enters the draft. We’ve likened his game to that of Kendall Hunter with a little Curtis Martin while other comparisons have been made to a faster version of Thurman Thomas. We’ve heard nothing as to whether he will opt for the draft at this point but from an outside perspective, its quite likely. As far as Jamison, his game is so much like that of former Rutgers star Ray Rice its scary. We were told weeks ago there’s a real chance Jamison would enter the draft and his decision will be based on how he finishes out the season.
– Getting back to Florida State we hear junior defensive end Bjoern Werner had been speaking with agents entering the season but his concentration lately has been on the football field.
– One of the most interesting situations coming out of Tallahassee is the decision Brandon Jenkins must make. The talented senior pass rusher saw his season end with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot after the first game of the season. Sources told me the injury will push him into the late rounds and its in Jenkins best interest to play another season on the college field. Speculation right now is Jenkins will stay in Tallahassee for one more year, though it comes from outside sources.
– It should come as no surprise to anyone that Geno Smith of West Virginia has surpassed Matt Barkley of USC on a number of draft boards, though we hear neither of them have inspired the confidence needed to be the first pick of the draft.
– We’ve been sneaking around trying to gather information on whether or not tight end Zach Ertz of Stanford, a first round prospect, will enter the draft. Separate sources told me while no word has come from Ertz the Stanford coaching staff is planning on life without the talented tight end in 2013.
– One of the biggest “sleepers” from the junior class is outside linebacker/defensive end Khalil Mack of Buffalo. The talented defender leads Buffalo in tackles (52), tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (4.5) in the six games he’s played this season. We feel the college defensive end it one of the better 3-4 outside linebacker prospects in college football right now. We also think, assuming he runs well, Mack is a top 75 selection, possibly top 60 pick. Sources have told me they don’t know whether Mack stays for his senior season or opts for the NFL- a clear indication he’s at least thinking about the 2013 draft.
– I continue to hear rumblings that San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar will enter the draft after the season. We had him rated as a 4th round pick entering the season and Escobar was listed as a sleeper in my SI.com prospects preview. He’s a big time talent with a terrific upside.
– The other player from SDSU getting a lot of positive chatter in scouting circles is cornerback Leon McFadden.
– Another junior tight end from the west coast many are saying will opt for the NFL after the season is Zach Ertz of Stanford, who is really developing into a complete player at the position.
– Ertz Cardinal teammate Stepfan Taylor is getting rave reviews in the scouting community. Many have described the senior running back to us as a big time talent. The word right now is second round for Taylor.
– Many have cooled on previously glowing opinions for Washington State junior receiver Marquess Wilson. Though no one doubts his receiving talent there is concern about Wilson’s speed and ability to create separation at the next level.
– From the defensive side of the ball scouts have raved about the play of UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. Teams love his size, speed and upside. They are infatuated with the flashes of brilliance he’s shown at times this season.
– Two sleepers to keep an eye on are Nevada tight end Zach Sudfeld and Asuza Pacific offensive tackle Luke Marquardt. We’ve heard a variety of opinions on Sudfeld, who missed all but one game last season with a leg injury, and most of it has been positive. He’s a big athlete who moves well yet a prospect with an injury history. Marquardt has had his own injury issues this year and was initially expected to miss the first five games of the season, though we here it could be longer. He is being compared favorably to another small school lineman, Jared Veldheer.