10 Teams That Will Be Hit Hardest by Players Declaring Early for 2013 NFL Draft
There are many teams that will suffer a major blow when players begin declaring for the NFL draft. It is tough being a college football head coach, because players are constantly changing and leaving.
Once you think you have something special in a certain player, he has bolted for the money and fame of the next level. After the bowl games and national championship, it will be another season of saying goodbye to some of the top players we have all grown to love over the years.
With many talented players eligible to leave college a season early, that list will grow even longer.
The deadline to throw their name in the hat is quickly approaching. We will soon see several elite players feel that they have done enough to be worthy of a top selection in the 2013 NFL draft.
Here are some of the teams that will be hit hard when players decide they want to give the pros a shot.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Luke Joeckel, Damontre Moore and Jake Matthews
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Ryan Swope, Christine Michael, Sean Porter, Dustin Harris and Uzoma Nwachukwu
Luke Joeckel won the Outland Trophy and is widely considered the top offensive lineman in this year’s class. I think it is safe to say that he will soon be taking his talents to the next level. Moore is an athletic freak at the defensive end position and would also be a first-round pick if he left College Station.
Matthews isn't as great as Joeckel is on the offensive line, but he is a player with tons of upside and could also go as early in the first round.
This isn't brain surgery; when you hear that you could be taken in the first round, you thank your coaches and leave as soon as possible. With three Aggies possibly having their name called within the first 32 picks, you can expect all three guys to leave.
Don't worry, Texas A&M, you still have Johnny Manziel.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Johnathan Hankins, C.J. Barnett and Bradley Roby
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: John Simon, Jake Stoneburner, Etienne Sabino, Zach Boren, Travis Howard and Nathan Williams
Johnathan Hankins wasted no time in leaving for the next level. He is one of the top defensive linemen this draft has to offer and should be selected as a first-round pick. C.J. Barnett could also leave early, but his injury history will likely force him to return to Ohio State. You can expect him to remain a Buckeye.
You send it in, they watch the film and give you a grade. I read the letter, 'You could be drafted as high as this round.' I'm thinking to myself, he's not going to get picked in that round. Why would you ever say that?
With Hankins, I think it is safe to say he will be one of the first players selected.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Tony Jefferson, Kenny Stills and Trey Millard
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Lane Johnson, Landry Jones, Stacy McGee, Demontre Hurst and Jamarkus McFarland
Kenny Stills could decide to leave now that his quarterback is graduating. He had a productive enough career to where he would likely be taken within the first three rounds. Tony Jefferson is a versatile playmaker in the defensive backfield, as he does a good job of playing coverage and helping in run defense. Much like Stills, he could be taken on the first day of the draft.
Millard is one of the better fullbacks in the country and could provide an NFL team with a versatile big man. A team would probably spend a third- or fourth-round pick on the junior fullback.
There is a bunch of talent that looks to leave Oklahoma this year, but with the way the Sooners have underachieved the last couple of years, maybe it is a good thing to start fresh heading into 2013.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Silas Redd, Robert Woods and Nickell Robey
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Matt Barkley, Khaled Holmes, Curtis McNeal, T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Wes Horton
This will be a solid draft class if you are a team looking for a wide receiver. Robert Woods isn't considered one of the elite prospects, but he will be one of the first players at the position to be selected. With Matt Barkley graduating, it would be a shocker if Woods decided to return for another year.
Robey is one of the premier shutdown corners in the Pac-12 and could feel he has done enough to be selected within the first two rounds. As for Redd, you get the feeling he will return for another year at USC. With question marks now on this USC offense, he has the chance to become the workhorse for the Trojans and become that star he was at Penn State.
Woods is the only player that is nearly a lock to leave for the NFL out of the three that are eligible. Still, the biggest loss of all is losing the starting quarterback.
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Update: Eddie Lacy and D.J. Fluker have reportedly declared themselves eligible for the draft.
Players That Could Leave Early: Dee Milliner, C.J. Mosley, D.J. Fluker and Eddie Lacy
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Chance Warmack, Jesse Williams, Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Nico Johnson and Michael Williams
There is no word yet on which players will leave early, but Milliner, Mosley and Fluker could all be taken in the first couple of rounds. You can expect all three to declare very soon, while Lacy is the likeliest of the four to return considering he may not even be the best running back on the Alabama roster.
Whether Lacy decides to return, the Crimson Tide will still remain loaded at the running back position.
With all of the talent that Alabama is looking to lose, this may be another long offseason for head coach Nick Saban and company.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Tyler Eifert, Bennett Jackson and Cierre Wood
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Manti Te'o, Braxston Cave, Zeke Motta, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Theo Riddick
I think as the best tight end prospect in college football, Eifert is leaving South Bend after the national championship game. Jackson could also feel has improved his stock as high as it is going to get, as he is arguably the best corner on the team.
Wood could still help this Irish team contribute on offense, but reports indicate that he is leaning toward the NFL. Nothing is official yet, but he would have to have a fabulous combine in order to improve his shaky draft stock.
Most of the blow Notre Dame will suffer this season will come from losing the graduating players, but the three players who can declare early aren't anything to sneeze at.
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Players Who Could Leave Early: Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Bray
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Dallas Thomas, Mychal Rivera, Zach Rogers and Herman Lathers
With NFL teams always looking for big-play wide receivers, Justin Hunter will probably be playing his last game in a Tennessee uniform. Patterson isn't as talented as Hunter, but he is a receiver who has improved his junior year and would get picked up within the first three rounds.
Bray should return for his senior season, but sources are reporting that he may very well likely leave Tennessee early.
While I do expect both receivers to take off, it will be interesting to see if Bray wants to return. However, I'm not sure how the new hire of head coach Butch Jones helped sway the quarterback’s decision to stay for another year.
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Players That Could Leave Early: Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam, Jordan Reed, Dominique Easley and Jelani Jenkins
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Mike Gillislee, Lerentee McCray, Jonathan Bostic, Xavier Nixon, Caleb Sturgis and Omar Hunter
Players such as Floyd and Elam would go within the first two rounds if they wanted to declare early for the NFL draft. However, good news for Gators fans, as sources are saying that Easley and Elam will likely return for their senior seasons.
If this does in fact happen, Florida could return every player who is eligible to leave, as Reed and Jenkins are likely returning to improve their draft stock. If some of these players have a change of heart, Florida could be the school that suffers the most, especially with many key players graduating.
A possible SEC championship next season relies on who stays and who goes.
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Players That Could Leave Early: Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Aaron Murray
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: John Jenkins, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Tavarres King, Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington
It hasn't been made official yet, but linebacker Jarvis Jones is gone. He is arguably the best defensive prospect in the country and could even be the best overall prospect in the draft, as Mel Kiper Jr. said.
Murray is an interesting option because I believe he still has work to do at Georgia. He has all of the qualities to be a solid quarterback. He moves well in the pocket, has decent size and a rocket for an arm. The problem is that he folds in pressure situations and hasn't really taken that next step in his three years at Georgia.
As for Ogletree, he may feel the need to leave Georgia early with a bunch of talent on the defensive side of the ball leaving as well. He has been a productive player for the Bulldogs who may feel he won't improve his stock much by returning for his senior season.
The Bulldogs should have their starting quarterback still on the team, but they will certainly lose the best defensive player in the country.
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Players That Could Leave Early: Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Eric Reid, Kevin Minter
Key Players the School Is Already Losing: Lavar Edwards, Russell Shepard, Alex Hurst and Josh Downs
You can remove all of those rumors that Mathieu will return to LSU next season, because the "Honey Badger" has already declared early. Soon enough you can expect Mingo and Montgomery to do the same, as they are both locks to be selected in the first round of the draft.
Reid is one of the best safeties at the collegiate level and could decide to jump ship as well. He has tremendous upside and could very well be taken in the late part of the first round.
LSU could take the biggest hit of the offseason, as there is a good chance all five of these players could leave Baton Rouge a season early.