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.

hide

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

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– 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

Yet those who think this is a problem don’t have a solution at the moment, not even Saban. He said he believes it begins when players receive unprecedented attention in high school and carry those expectations with them up the ranks.

All teams can do is evaluate the players, and they all seem thankful to receive an extra two weeks with the draft pushed back to May this year.

“I think it’s as deep of a draft class as I’ve ever seen, and a lot of it has to do with all the juniors coming out,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “There’s a lot of depth at a lot of positions.”

The interviews at the NFL combine will be an important opportunity for teams to interact with the underclassmen; Spielman said the Vikings hope to have one of their representatives “get in front of” each of the more than 300 players here.

And for Boyd, interviewing should be a strong point.

“I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to as a player [at Clemson] but at the same time I grew that much more,” Boyd said. “Anytime you have room for growing while you’re in college, you definitely got to take advantage of it before you make that next leap.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 12:00 PM
Chicago
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 8 1st Half 12:43
Connecticut 14
Boston College 12:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Virginia 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Indiana 12:30 PM
Ohio State
Stony Brook 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Cincinnati 1:00 PM
UCF
Maine 1:00 PM
Hartford
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Marist
Rowan 1:00 PM
Princeton
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Rhode Island
Duke 1:00 PM
St Johns
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Siena
Drake 1:00 PM
Wichita State
Vermont 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 15 1st Half 11:40
Georgetown 8
St Johns 12 1st Half 11:50
Villanova 15
Arkansas 9 1st Half 11:45
Florida 16
Maine 12:00 PM
UMBC
Vanderbilt 12:00 PM
Alabama
Lafayette 12:00 PM
Lehigh
UCF 1:00 PM
SMU
Utah 1:00 PM
Washington
James Madison 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Delaware 1:00 PM
Drexel
Hofstra 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Hartford 1:00 PM
Albany
Binghamton 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Towson 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wake Forest 1:00 PM
(17) Florida State
Georgia Tech 1:00 PM
Virginia
(22) Georgia 1:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Drake 1:00 PM
Evansville
Iona 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Northwestern 1:00 PM
Penn State
Wisconsin 1:00 PM
Michigan State
Ohio State 1:00 PM
Purdue
Northern Iowa 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Butler 1:30 PM
Xavier
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close