2013 NFL Draft: Top Stars Leaving School Too Soon

Marques EversollAnalyst IDecember 27, 2012

Patterson has great physical tools, but he would have been better off staying another year in Knoxville.
Patterson has great physical tools, but he would have been better off staying another year in Knoxville.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Underclassmen usually tell the story of how the NFL draft's first round unfolds. There are typically a handful of underclassmen in the "lottery" part of the draft, often defining an entire class.

Some underclassmen have made wise decisions to enter this year's draft. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard is viewed as the draft's No. 1 running back despite entering the draft as a third-year sophomore.

But for as many superstars as there are, there are just as many underclassmen that would have been better off spurning the NFL for another year in school.

Some players simply aren't ready to play at the professional level, but the fame and fortune seem to be too much to ignore. Some of these players' inconsistencies can be corrected with proper NFL coaching, but nonetheless there are some players who simply would have been better off not declaring this year.

Let's take a look at a few players who have declared themselves eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, but likely should have stayed in school another year.

OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (JR)

Bailey is a throwback guy. At his massive size, Bailey is a road-grader, making him a good fit for a team that utilizes a power-run game. There's a lot to like about him, but he's not a great pass blocker and he'll need to improve in that area for the NFL.

The 310-pound guard would have been better off staying at Arkansas one more year. No matter how well he tests out this offseason, he's unlikely to crack the first round of the draft, and new Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a great track record with big offensive linemen. Not only would Bailey have benefited from playing under Bielema, but he would have had a chance to refine his pass-blocking skills before entering next year's draft.

Bailey figures to be drafted on the draft's second or third day. He'll go to a run-heavy team that likes to play smash-mouth, old school football.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (JR)

Patterson has prototypical size for the wide receiver position. At 6'3", 205 pounds, the former JUCO transfer burst onto the scene at Tennessee.

Not only is he capable of lining up in the slot or on the perimeter of the formation, Patterson also has added value in the return game. He's the definition of a "home-run threat," but he has a tendency to drop open passes. Inconsistency plagues an otherwise impressive skill set.

He's still not a polished route-runner either, making him a solid second-day pick but not a serious threat to crack the first round. With one more year in Knoxville, Patterson may very well have played his way into the first half of Round 1.

DT Akeem Spence, Illinois (JR)

Spence is a great athlete for a defensive lineman. He's built short and stout, at 6'1" 300 pounds, but has incredible lateral quickness and a lot of burst for his size.

Working against Spence in regards to his draft stock is the fact that he's the anchor of a highly underperforming Illinois defense. He simply hasn't been as good as some of the other defensive tackles in the 2013 draft class. But still, his physical tools are hard to ignore.

Fellow Illini defensive lineman Corey Liuget rode an impressive offseason into the first round of the draft a few years ago, so Spence could help himself a lot at the combine. As of right now, Spence figures to be a second-day pick, either in Round 2 or 3.

If he had stayed at Illinois for one more year, Spence may have been in line to be the top defensive tackle in next year's draft.