Non-seniors flock to draft, and to NFL Combine

The NFL combine is the first test for 86 players giving up a year of college.

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North quarterback Tajh Boyd (10), of Clemson, looks to pass during the first half of the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game against the South on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Photo: Butch Dill, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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– Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd, first-round picks by the Vikings last year, were three of 73 non-seniors who left college early to enter the 2013 NFL draft.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd nearly made it 74.

Boyd was convinced he would leave college after his Chick-fil-A Bowl MVP performance in a victory over LSU as a junior. Instead of reacting to his emotions, Boyd evaluated his situation over the next month and opted to return for his senior season.

“I felt like I could’ve made a move last year, but at the same time I wanted to go back and make sure I was fully ready to make that leap,” Boyd said.

His decision to return to school is a rarity among top college football players now. While Boyd prepares for the NFL, so will a record number of underclassmen — 98 in all — who have declared for the draft.

That number creates a deep draft class for 2014, but also some players who might be ill-equipped for the NFL. Teams will have a chance to sort through the eligible players beginning today at the NFL combine.

Extra seasoning

Boyd’s statistics in 2013 were similar to his stats from 2012, but his draft stock likely dropped thanks to poor performances in big games and a rough Senior Bowl practice week. He definitely will be drafted after Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel and UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, all non-seniors.

But Boyd accomplished a few team and individual goals in his final season and felt he matured on the field.

The Tigers finished the season 11-2 and defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

“I understand defenses a little bit more,” Boyd said. “I feel like I was able to operate the system better at Clemson. I just wanted to take what I learned from there and just apply it here.”

Boyd met with many NFL teams at the Senior Bowl in January, and hopes to impress more of them at the combine. Also looking to impress will be the non-seniors who are having their coming out parties here. Of the 98 who are leaving college early, 86 were invited to the combine. Of the 73 underclassmen who declared early last year, 20 were picked on Day 3 (rounds 4-7) and 19 went undrafted.

Following the NBA

“I think more and more, we’re getting the basketball mentality in football that, ‘I can go right from high school to the NBA,’” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “More parents, more players are going to college with the idea that I’m going to be there for three years and then I’m going to get out as fast as I can and get to the NFL.”

Saban supports underclassmen who declare early for the draft if they’re potential first-round choices. Otherwise, he said he thinks players should return to school to get their degree and develop as a senior to enhance their draft status.

Only four of the 98 non-seniors have graduated, including Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard and Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford.

“If I didn’t graduate, I definitely would’ve been back,” Bradford said. “But I felt like getting a degree and doing that part is a major part of college and your life. I’ve seen maybe a handful of them that came out earned their degrees but that was one of the main reasons why I came out as a junior.”

Lots of depth

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Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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