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NCAA Football

20 College Football Underclassmen Who Should Declare for 2013 NFL Draft

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20 Underclassmen Who Should Declare for the 2013 NFL Draft

NFL Draft
Kevin Liles-US Presswire

The January 15th date is upon us and that’s the cutoff date for underclassmen to declare for the 2013 NFL draft. NFL draft rules say that any athlete 3 years removed from their high school graduating class is eligible to apply for entry into the draft. This means that any student that’s a redshirt sophomore on up can be eligible.

Every year a growing number of college football underclassmen choose to try their hand at the NFL, and they do so for various reasons.

Some players are at the tops of their game, and feel as though they have nothing else to prove by staying in college. These players are typically either projected to be top draft picks, or they understand that they are at the top of their game, even if they aren’t a high draft pick, and choose to move on.

Then there is another group of players who have to declare. And by have to, I mean there’s nothing else for them to go back to. These are the young men who’ve found themselves in a position where they can’t return to school so taking a shot at the draft is all they have. This has nothing to do with their draft stock and in some cases these young men aren’t even drafted.

The third group, which is a small one are those who are declaring for a cause. These are young men who feel forced into the decision for financial reasons. Families to take care of and financial hardships push players who aren’t really ready to go to the next level in too soon. Typically these athletes are mid to late round prospects and really have to work hard for their cause.

The final group are the wild cards. They might fall into one of the categories above, but it’s not something that is made known so draftniks like myself are left to wonder what in the world would make this athlete decide to head into the NFL early?

But this list is going to be dedicated to those underclassmen who’ve chosen not to declare that should. The 20 underclassmen who have either already announced they are not coming out, or have not said one way or the other that should be in the 2013 NFL draft.

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Chase Thomas, LB Stanford

NFL Draft
Kyle Terada-US Presswire

Thomas is one of those players that in this draft would be in high demand. He's not scheme-specific, however he comes from a pro style 3-4 defense and would be in great demand. He can rush the passer or drop into coverage and is able to make plays all over the field. Not sure he can improve his stock with another season.

3 of 21

Daniel McCullers, DT Tennessee

NFL Draft
Daniel Shirley-USA TODAY Sports

I include McCullers on this list simply because it's not every year you get a 380lb player in the draft. McCullers is another player who seems to have topped out his potential and could be served by heading to the draft now, before all the changes happen at Tennessee.

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AJ McCarron, QB Alabama

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

If there was a player who could help themselves by coming out after a big win, it would have been McCarron. He had a tremendous performance int he BCS Championship game, and could have ridden that wave of momentum right to April. In 2014, the draft prospects around him will be much more daunting to go against. McCarron isn't a great prospect, but could have found a team pretty easily with all the attention he was getting.

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Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech

NFL Draft
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

I include Thomas on this list because I don't think there is anything else college coaching can do for him. He needs an NFL coach to light a fire under him and get him to play to his potential. He was lazy this year and there's no reason to return for another lazy college season.

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Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame

NFL Draft
Matt Cashore-US Presswire

Great nose tackle prospects are rare and Nix is one of them. I was very shocked he didn't declare as he would have been in great demand with so many teams running a 3-4 defense. He was a first round pick this year, and will need a huge season to move up any next year.

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CJ Mosley, LB Alabama

NFL Draft
John David Mercer-US Presswire

Probably the biggest shock for me was that Mosley was returning to school. He's a first round lock and can only hurt his draft stock under another year of scrutiny at Alabama. He can play inside or outside in any scheme and I think might have cost himself some money by returning to school.

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Aaron Colvin, CB Oklahoma

NFL Draft
Matthew Emmons-US Presswire

As an Oklahoma fan, I am glad Colvin is returning to school. But in a cornerback class that is really up in the air from the #3 prospect on, I would not have been shocked if Colvin and his instincts and coverage skills didn't make a break for the NFL and take his shot being drafted in the 2nd round. I'm not sure if he can get any higher than that regardless of how he plays next season.

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Adrian Hubbard, LB Alabama

NFL Draft
Matthew Emmons-US Presswire

Hubbard had a very quiet BCS Champioinship game and I assume that contributed to him returning to school. That and the fact that with a huge Junior year he could fly up draft boards. But I'd still like to have seen him in this draft with these rush outside linebackers in such demand.

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Lache Seastrunk, RB Baylor

NFL Draft
Tim Heltman-US Presswire

While I don't consider Seaatrunk a first round prospect, I think he's going to find the sledding much tougher next season. He ended the season with a ton of momentum, and I have a hard time believing he can help his draft stock enough to get into the first round next year. Lofty goals aside, I think he might as well have come out this year and taken a shot.

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Will Sutton, DT Arizona State

NFL Draft
Cary Edmondson-US Presswire

Another head scratcher. Sutton was as disruptive a force as their was in college football last year when he was healthy, and a terror for PAC-12 offenses. I can only assume he thinks he can be one of the top 2 or 3 defensive tackles in 2014 in order to return, but after getting hurt this year, he's taking a calculated risk.

12 of 21

Kyle Van Noy, DE BYU

NFL Draft
Jake Roth-US Presswire

Van Noy is another player who could have ridden a huge finish to his season right into a first round pick. Next year it's going to be much harder for him to have success with the losses on the BYU defense, so don't be shocked if we hear much less from him next season.

13 of 21

Ty Zimmerman, S Kansas State

NFL Draft
Charles LeClaire-US Presswire

I include Zimmerman on this list because this safety class is pretty muddled up and Zimmerman could come in and establish himself among the top 5. Next season with the defensive losses in the Kansas State front 7, he's going to have a much harder time to maintain what he did this year.

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Ed Reynolds, S Stanford

NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SPORTS

Another talented young safety who could have come into the league when they need him. Again, he's losing players around him, and you never know if that will help him or hurt him in 2014. Reynolds is a smart, agressive playmaker who really improved as the season went on.

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Gabe Jackson, G Mississippi State

NFL Draft
Spruce Durden-US Presswire

Jackson is a massive guard with excellent feet and power in the run game. He'd have almost certainly been in the top 3 of guards in this draft and what we have seen is teams are not afraid to take a guard in the first round anymore. I don't know if he could have improved with another season, but he's got to stay healthy first.

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Zach Mettenberger, QB LSU

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

LSU underclassmen are leaving like rats scurrying off the deck of a sinking ship. If I am Mettenberger staring down what will at best be a down year minus so many great players, and at the worst the NCAA hammer on their program, I get out. Mettenberger is a mid round prospect now, and probably a mid round prospect next year. But this draft you can almost guarantee that teams are going to stockpile quarterbacks so if you aren't at the top in 2014 you might get passed over.

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Silas Redd, RB USC

NFL Draft
Steven Bisig-US Presswire

When Redd transferred to USC, he had a chance to really show up as the star he has the potential to be. But it never really materialized, and I'm not sure at this point it ever will. With a new quarterback next year, Redd could likely backslide further.

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Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson

NFL Draft
Daniel Shirley-USA TODAY Sports

I can appreciate that Boyd decided to go back and win a championship at Clemson, but with his top target declaring for the draft, Boyd is going to really get creative to duplicate this season. If he'd have declared he almost certainly would have been in the top 4 quarterbacks taken. Not sure he can do any better than that in 2014.

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Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan

NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-US Presswire

I had Lewan graded out as a top 5 player and a top 10 pick, so I was stunned when he didn't declare. He's a tremendous tackle prospect with no flaws. He got better as the season went on and is going to have some significant changes in the Michigan offense to deal with. All Lewan can do at this point is hurt his stock especially considering the other eligible players that will be around him.

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Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M

NFL Draft
Brett Davis-US Presswire

Another top 10 prospect who chose to return to school. I understand that he doesn't need the money. And I understand that he wants to prove himself at left tackle. Neither of those points reconcile the point that he was a top 10 pick this year, and likely will be next year, but a move to the left could realistically hurt his draft stock.

21 of 21

Aaron Murray, QB Georgia

NFL Draft
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

I really hoped Murray would bring his game to the NFL this season. There are so many teams that need a signal caller, and his spot in late first or early second round was almost assured. But he chose to return for his team and to win a championship. Instead he's going to get put under the microscope so he had better have an amazing season to build on.

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