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January 15 is a big day on the NFL calendar, as it's the day when all college underclassmen must declare for the upcoming NFL draft by. Technically, 11:59:59pm EST is the deadline, with an added 72 hours for those players who change their mind after declaring.

As of this writing, an incomplete list is available (there are always unreported declarations) and gives us a good picture of what this draft class looks like. And with NFL teams finally making hires at head coach and for coordinator spots, we can start to connect dots as to team fit and scheme for draft prospects.

And with the East-West Shrine Game ending and the Senior Bowl kicking off in four days, this week's "condensed" version of the Scouting Notebook is loaded with information. 


— With extended film study I planned to move Pitt tackle T.J. Clemmings up my board this week, so I reached out to an area scout for background info on him. Clemmings, the scout added, was a top prep basketball player with offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall and Rhode Island. He's also the owner of the most powerful punch this scout had seen in college football this season.

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The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft is one week away—January 15—and already the 2015 class is shaping up to be a good one. With each passing day, more information and more analysis comes in. That's what the Scouting Notebook is here for, to update you on all things NFL draft each Friday.

This week's article is jam-packed with news on seniors and underclassmen, a look at one hit and one miss from my evaluations, a two-round mock draft and 10 players moving up and down on my draft board this month.

Ready? Let's go.


— TCU linebacker Paul Dawson is shooting up my board the more I watch him, and in talking with one area scout responsible for Texas, I heard that Dawson really dominated to end the year. The same scout said they view him as a Round 2 player with room to rise.

— Former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham comes with big off-field issues. I asked around this week and one very experienced general manager told me they view him as "undraftable" based on the legwork already done on his background.

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Draft season is here, with the first stage of the process complete now that the college football regular season is over and the first 20 picks of the NFL draft set. But let's not forget this is a long, arduous process, and it's just getting started.

The process of evaluating players for the NFL draft begins immediately after the last draft ends. For the 2015 class, I started in mid-May 2014 working on the top returning players. The general idea is to focus on the top seniors, but players like Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon) and Jameis Winston (QB, FSU) meant also looking at the top underclassmen quarterbacks.

From mid-May until the games begin in late August, my work focuses purely on those seniors and top-level underclassmen. The process evolves once the college season begins, with more work being done on a team level as the search for NFL-caliber talent becomes more widespread. My goal in-season is to see each team three times and then highlight individually talented players on those teams three times by looking at their individual game film.

Now, once the season ends, is when the job gets crazy. With underclassmen flooding the draft class, that means going back to review those sophomores and juniors who weren't expected to declare in-season and getting a look at their skill set. And that's where I'm at now—trying to finish evaluations of the top seniors while adding in the declaring underclassmen.

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Rest easy, football fans, it's officially draft season. 

The regular season has ended and college football bowl season is ramping up, which means it's time to get hot and heavy into draft coverage. My personal assignments mean less NFL coverage—something that takes up a big part of my regular-season work—and a 100 percent focus on scouting and NFL draft work. 

As rankings, job openings and the 2015 draft class starts to take shape, the draft season really comes into focus. And that results in a jam-packed Scouting Notebook this week.


— Baylor football received good news this week when defensive end Shawn Oakman decided to head back to school for his senior season. It's a surprising move, but Oakman does need to work on his technique and on becoming more consistent. I wrote previously that Oakman had been overrated, so this is a smart move on his part.

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The 2014 NFL regular season is over, which means it's draft season for 20 teams.

Scouting departments are already preparing big boards for each team, but how the draft plays out will depend largely on hirings, firings and free-agent signings. That doesn't mean we can't take a look at how the 2015 NFL draft would look if it happened today, however.

Using declared and expected underclassmen and the current draft order (which is set for the first 20 picks), here's a look at Round 1 of the upcoming draft.

Nati Harnik

If you're thirsty for NFL draft coverage, you've clicked on the right article. 

With half of the NFL already eliminated from playoff contention and the college football regular season already over, it's time to crank the throttle as far as NFL draft coverage goes. And this time of year, there's plenty to talk about.

Juniors and redshirt sophomores are declaring for the draft, and others are announcing they'll return to school. NFL coaches and players are being put on the hot seat (that means you, Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler) while teams end the season with an eye toward evaluating the young talent on the roster. 

What's new in the world of the NFL draft? A lot, so this will be a long one.

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The NFL draft has become a 365-day news cycle, but there is definitely a "draft season." And we're getting close to it. With six NFL teams already eliminated from playoff contention and just four weeks of NFL play left, many teams are shifting their focus to the upcoming offseason. That means more information from scouts, more underclassmen making NFL draft decisions and a whole lot of film study to set my big board for player rankings.

You'll get that in this week's Scouting Notebook, plus a look at the updated draft order and each team's biggest need as we head into the offseason. 


— In all my talks with NFL scouts this week, no player was mentioned more than Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson. He's soaring up boards as teams file their initial grades this week. More on him below.

— What are NFL scouts doing this week? The National Football Scouting meetings are taking place in Indianapolis this week, and most clubs are bringing in all their scouts from the road next week to set an initial big board based on area scout grades. Expect a big information dump in the next 10 days as these scouting meetings get underway.

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Three NFL teams—the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets—are officially eliminated from the postseason. For them and for others clinging loosely to playoff dreams, it's time to start thinking about the upcoming offseason and the 2015 season.

We can put these teams on the clock and begin looking at their needs and assets, but first there's the wait to see which college underclassmen (redshirt sophomores and juniors) will enter the 2015 draft. That news will start trickling in this week, and there are plenty of updates on that below for you to digest along with your Thanksgiving turkey.

As an added bonus, this week's Scouting Notebook also features a full one-round mock draft. 


— Let's get right down to it. Sources close to players and/or schools have confirmed to me that these juniors are planning to leave school for the NFL draft: Leonard Williams (DT—USC), Randy Gregory (DE—Nebraska), Shane Ray (DE—Missouri), Benardrick McKinney (ILB—Miss. State), Andrus Peat (OT—Stanford) and Alex Carter (CB—Stanford).

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The college football regular season is nearing its end, and with that the NFL draft season really starts to heat up. 

With one final update before the end of the season, here is a look at which draft-eligible (redshirt sophomores, juniors and seniors) players project best to the NFL at this time. Draft rankings are fluid, and things like good or bad play, injuries and more time to view prospects can have a drastic effect on the board. But through three months of play, these players stand out as the best.

Here's a look at my top 64 players overall and my top 10 players at each position. If your favorite player isn't included here, it may be because they are an underclassman I don't expect to declare for the 2015 draft. If they're a senior prospect, it could be because an underclassman is taking their spot. 

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Top players are being injured, suspended, overrated and underrated. Basically, this means draft season is heating up.

The goal of the weekly Scouting Notebook is to inform, update and discuss all that's happening in the world of the NFL draft. We'll talk about A.J. Johnson being suspended while he's investigated in a sexual assault case. We'll talk about Marcus Peters and his rebound after being kicked out of Washington. We'll talk about players who are overrated and those who too many people are sleeping on as underrated prospects.

With another week of the regular season gone and the playoffs getting closer, here's one more look at the Scouting Notebook.


— Washington cornerback Marcus Peters was my top-ranked player at the position before being dismissed from the team, reportedly for conflicts with coaches. With more information coming in regarding his dismissal, Peters is still my No. 1 cornerback. According to sources close to the Washington program, the exact cause of his conflicts was such that his draft stock will be unaffected once the full story is told.