Over the past several years, a growing trend in the NFL has led underclassmen—college students who still have available years of NCAA eligibility—to declare for the draft before finishing their degrees. Last year, 56 young men who could have stayed in school instead decided to try their luck on the NFL auction block.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although there have certainly been players who have later taken the opportunity to finish those degrees they abandoned in favor of professional football.
Indeed, when underclassmen declare for the NFL draft it forces talented new blood into the draft a year or two before it would be available otherwise and opens doors for new athletes at the collegiate level who would otherwise sit as backups waiting their turn.
Of course, there is never a guarantee that a particular student will decide to go to the NFL instead of staying in school for an extra year (or two). Although we can speculate all we’d like about who will be drafted at the top of the class for the NFL in 2012, right now all of that guesswork can still go out the window.
Over the next five slides, we’ll take a look at five junior draft prospects that might just benefit by staying in school for one more year.