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Declared underclassmen and undecided underclassmen predictions...


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Officially Declared Underclassmen

By: Roshan Bhagat | 1/2

Branden Albert, OG, Virginia. A 6 7, 310 pound guard who was named 1st team All-ACC this season. He told the Roanoke Times that he would file the necessary paperwork to make himself eligible for April s Selection. He has good feet for a man his size and is projected to leave the board by the 3rd round. I feel, towards the end, that I got a lot more attention as a player, but I understand that comes with winning, he said. I have no complaints with the University of Virginia. I got everything out of my career that I could have wanted. (announced: 01/02)

James Banks, WR, Carson-Newman. The former high school All-American plans to declare for the draft after reeling in 22 passes for 370 yards and 6 touchdowns. While the numbers may not be wowing, he was the focal point of opposing defenses and was blanketed by two men up and down the field. He started at Tennessee but was released after a season of academic ineligibility and disciplinary infractions. Now 24, he has requested evaluation from the NFL Advisory Committee and has already entered his name in the draft. (announced: 12/28)

Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas. After a 1600, 18 touchdown season, no one can blame you for leaving early. What Charles did down the stretch was nothing short of remarkable. He broke 160 in 4 of his last 5 games. He paved way for a Longhorns victory of the Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl with 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Charles will likely compete with Chris Johnson (East Carolina) for the fastest 40 at the Combine. He has good size and can get outside in the blink of an eye. A true game changer who will definitely be drafted in one of the first two rounds. (announced: 01/02)

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. His stock has been on the rise and appears to be a top 20 pick at this point. Has good size, but importantly quick feet and good athleticism. While he could have been an even better pick with another year of work, he ll make great money, with plenty of teams in the market for an athletic left tackle. He s signed with JL Sports, a sports management company, therefore making a return to Boise State impossible. It s official Clady is in and he s adding to an already deep crop of tackles. (announced: 01/01)

Johnny Dingle, DE, West Virginia. The NFL has been a lifelong dream for Dingle. After the Pitt loss, he said his mind was made up. At 6 3, 275 he has NFL size and had NFL production this season with 46 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks. He has a good burst off the edge and has proven to be a reliable pass rusher. He s improved on his run game and is a decent 4th round prospect or so. (announced: 12/21)

Franklin Dunbar, OT, Middle Tennessee State. Coach Rick Stockstill said he has decided to enter early because his family is having financial problems. He has a good range and frame (6 5, 320) and was named 1st team All-Sun Belt for the 2nd year in a row. Arguably the best player on his team. Has NFL size and strength, but will need to work on technique. Nothing more than a mid-late day two pick. (announced 12/18)

Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland. An athletic linebacker who will run sideline-to-sideline with any ball carrier. Drops everything he hits with sound technique. Understands coverage and can get back fluidly. Has decided to cut his career at Maryland a year short while his stock is as high as the late 1st. Even though he ll have a difficult time passing up another year of memories with friends and the community at Maryland, he ll be gaining a year of experience in the NFL, something far too valuable to pass up. (announced: 01/02)

Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (FL). It s just about official. Kenny Phillips earlier this week informed Randy Shannon that he will be leaving early to enter the draft. In a weak safety class, his stock is very high right now, even though he had room for improvement. A lock for a 1st round pick and the first safety off the board. (announced: 12/6)

Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville. The 6 6, 220 pound junior has decided to skip out on his senior season citing injuries and a finite career as his reason. Unfortunately, with missing time this season and playing injured I got to see football from a different perspective. You only have so much time to play this sport, and the 2008 draft is my opportunity, Urrutia said. Seems slow-ish and misses too many easy catches. Most likely a day two guy; someone I can see slipping beyond his media stock . (announced: 12/14)

Undecided

Bobby Reid, QB, Oklahoma State. According to Coach Gundy, Bobby Reid may not be a part of Oklahoma State s football team next season. After a year that involved his benching and a huge fiasco with an infamous rant where Gundy defended the character of his quarterback, it appears likely that Bobby Reid will either transfer or declare early. He recently received his degree and with one year of eligibility remaining, Coach thinks it s unlikely that he ll return just to be a backup.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri. Invited to New York for the Heisman. Displays good poise, good accuracy, and good decision-making. Perhaps the second-coming of Drew Brees? His height is a concern and the class is pretty talented. Has said that he will likely return to Missouri, but you never know.

Prediction: Returns 90/10.

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. The only thing he hasn t accomplished in college is the Heisman trophy. With his insane running skills, the rest of the class falls far short in comparison. He s nearly a lock to declare. He hasn t decided, but even his mom said he was bolting at the beginning of the season.

Prediction: Declares 90/10.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon. He s had his difficulties since Dennis Dixon left. Has also had a problem with a sore heel. With a month to rest before his bowl game, he should be back at full strength to display his plethora of skills. Should he enter, with an expected combine, he ll be the second back off the board. At a recent press conference you could tell Stewart is getting weary of all of the NFL questions that arise. He won t make a decision until January, which is right around the corner. In other words, nothing new.

Prediction: Declares 60/40.

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas. Running behind McFadden, he still compiled 1000 yards on the ground. A fast, shifty runner with adequate NFL Size. Should McFadden leave early, he could make more money by deciding to stay. Either way, he s got a shot at the first round this year and you never know what a new coaching staff will bring. On Coach Bobby Petrino Felix Jones said, We ll have to wait till next season starts and go from there. When asked whether that was any indication as to where he ll be, he responded, Could be.

Prediction: Returns 60/40.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois. Though the program is on the rise and is overshadowed by a couple other names, his stock is very high right now. He has a good blend of speed and power and his brother is waiting to take over should he leave. He is left with a tough decision on whether to take the money now, which may be in his family s favor, or stay and fine tune his game. Considering Illinois made a BCS Bowl, I think he ll enter. Both he and his mom have made indications that he ll leave early.

Prediction: Declares 75/25.

Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia. He has filed his papers to see where his draft grade stands of now. He ll test well whenever he enters, but after a less than productive season he should return. Though Noel Devine and Pat White will continue to carry the ball often next year, the team will have enough carries to go around and will contend for the National Championship yet again. With Pat White 99.99 percent sure he ll return, Slaton said that Rodriguez s decision leave won t have an impact on his already serious consideration of entering early. It is a decision he ll reach after the team plays their bowl game.

Prediction: Returns 65/35.

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers. He s been worked and worked again. Coach Schiano has built such a tight-knit team and Rice knows he s the face of it. Scouts won t take well to another season of 350+ carries. Should he leave now, he s a 2nd/3rd rounder, but the money would certainly help his family. He s a humble kid who will sit down with his family and coach to reach the right decision.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

James Davis, RB, Clemson. As the deadline approaches, it seems like his chances of leaving early will increase. He hasn t been satisfied in the way he s been used this year. The coaching staff has indicated that the bowl game will be a preview of how he ll be used for the upcoming year. He s a talented runner with a good combination of speed and downhill power. We ll have to wait until after the Chick-fil-A Bowl, December 31, to find out for sure, but he s said if he s a projected 1st rounder he ll leave. If he s a 3rd rounder he ll return and if he s a 2nd rounder, he ll have a tough decision to make. As it appears, looks like he ll have to make a tough decision.

Prediction: Declares 55/45.

DeSean Jackson, WR, California. While numbers say he has struggled, the numbers he ll put at the Combine still leave Golden Bear fans anxious. A national title meant a lot to him but this season was his chance and the team s chance to shine. Neither did and yet he still has a first round grade. Should he return next season, there is nothing indicating that his stock will definitely improve. Though he has said he will wait until after the season to think about it, right now it appears he s slightly favoring declaring.

Prediction: Declares 60/40.

Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma. Early in the year, he was considered the top receiver. However he s shown periods of inconsistency in-game and game-to-game. He won t wow clocks in his 40, but he has good size and good hands. Sources say he ll declare if he gets the 1st round grade he expects.

Prediction: Declares 70/30.

James Hardy, WR, Indiana. A massive receiver with great potential. Capped a very successful season that should make him a borderline first rounder should he opt for the draft. His decision is unknown.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt. He ll time well, but he does all of the little things that make a receiver good. Runs good routes, catches well, makes catches in the middle of the field, and can return kicks and punts. He ll submit his name to see where he grades out. Should it be an early round selection, he ll seriously consider leaving.

Prediction: Returns 70/30.

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State. He s a JUCO transfer yielding great success this season. With 1200+ yards and good speed to match his 6 2, 218 pound frame, he could be a day one selection. He hasn t gotten the praise of other receives and with a lot of receivers to crowd this area, he could stay year, add polish, and come out even stronger next season.

Prediction: Returns 75/25.

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan. The heart and soul, Hart and Henne, are leaving so it wouldn t be surprising to see the same from Manningham. He has a decent year and will likely grade out as a second rounder. Though no indications have been made either way, I think he s leaning towards going to the next level.

Prediction: 55/45.

Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri. With Martin Rucker graduating, will Coffman leave and leave a huge gap on the Tigers offense? I doubt it unless he gets a generous grade from the Advisory Committee. He s a guy that can get up and down the field (51 receptions), but also blocks very well. Recent comments have suggested a strong indication as to which way he s leaning. "As of right now I'm almost positive I'll be staying," Coffman said. "Whenever we get this thing back that predicts what round, I'll sit down and think a little bit more."

Prediction: Returns 85/15.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M. At 6 6, 260, he has great size and athleticism to start in the NFL. He s a great receiver but his blocking leaves something to be desired. With Mike Sherman coming to Texas A&M, perhaps he can help Bennett become a better all-around guy to be the first tight end off the board next year.

Prediction: Returns 75/25.

Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi. A tremendous athlete with unique blend of strength, size, and athleticism. His technique is incredible considering he has played only 5 years of organized football. With Houston Nutt coming, it looks like he might stay, though his stock right now is very high. Teams will be keeping an eye on what he ll do, but this could easily go either way.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma. Like Oher, he has great size and footwork. A JUCO transfer who continues to work himself up. He has been flagged too often this year and could be better served by staying another year.

Prediction: Returns 70/30.

Alex Boone, OT, Ohio State. He s up there with the best in terms of the complete package. Good size, good technique, good footwork. A student of the game and the weight room. He sent in his paperwork and is awaiting word on his projected draft stock. Until then, it s tough to tell if he ll enter early in a very talented offensive tackle class.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (FL). A defensive end that had high expectations coming into the season. With his combination of size and speed, he is part of the new breed of defensive ends such as Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. However he and the Hurricanes failed to live up their billing. Campbell knows he didn t play well this year and won t make a final decision until after hearing from the Advisory Committee. Sources close to Campbell and the team have indicated that he is leaning towards bolting early.

Prediction: Declares 80/20.

Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State. Along with 12 other Buckeyes, Gholston submitted paper work to request his projected draft stock right now. He has terrorized quarterbacks on a weekly basis. Combined with great size, strength, athleticism, and experience standing up, he will surely be the top 3-4 pass rush selected. In the 4-3, another great pass rushing end.

Prediction: Declares 60/40.

Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. ). A rangy, athletic end. Harvey laughed off rumors of being academically ineligible and is waiting to hear from the advisory council. Won t make a decision until after the team s bowl game. Coach Meyer has been ecstatic about his improvement from the past two years, especially considering the loss of Jarvis Moss on the opposite side. It s been said he s leaning towards leaving. In a recent press conference, Derrick Harvey kept referring to the 08 Gators defense with the pronoun they . An indication? Perhaps. It could also be a bunch of draft fanatics reading too much into everything looks dropped hints.

Prediction: Declares 65/35.

Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. Another defensive end in the mold of a Calais Campbell (6 5, 292) and couples it with great athleticism. Hasn t been the pass rusher he was expected to be, but has been a great run stopper. Has a lot of potential whose stock could skyrocket if he stays another year. Nothing is known of Tyson Jackson and the draft to this point.

Prediction: Returns 65/35.

James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State. In a breaking headline, 13 OSU players asked for a draft grade. I fail to see how this is relevant as it gives no indication either way. However, Laurinaitis is one of the few who might be better off coming out. Though his stock could rise next season, he ll have to compete with Rey Maualuga among others. This year, he is in a class of his own with tremendous athleticism and great upside overall. On the contrary, Laurinaitis said, I m just finding out what the NFL s going to say about where I stand. I m definitely confident about coming back. I love Ohio State. I love it here. I m having a great time.

Prediction: Returns 70/30.

Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee. Another great talent and athlete who has earned several buck by his stellar play during his junior season. He led the team in tackles with 127 and packs a punch with everyone. Mayo still has a few minor kinks in his game that could be wrinkled out by another season in college. His most recent feelings give no strong indication either way. I'm real neutral right now, Jerod told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. I love Tennessee, I love being here. I'm just going to get my grade back and talk to my family and see what I'm going to do at the end of the season.

Prediction: Declares 55/45.

Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma. It can be argued that Lofton was the team s most valuable player and his 142 tackles would be just about enough proof. He has filed his paperwork to the Draft Advisory Council and if it doesn t come back projecting him as a top 15 pick, Lofton in all likeliness will remain with the Sooners for another season.

Prediction: Returns 90/10.

Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State. He turns 20 on December 20th. He is considered by many to be the top cornerback on the board with his size, speed, and ball skills. Malcolm has a few flaws in his technique but overall looks like a great prospect. Even though he filed his papers, he is concerned on only one thing. We took it upon ourselves to say, We re not going to think about or talk about it until the time comes, Jenkins said. We re just going to focus on this game.

Prediction: Returns 55/45.

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas. Kansas juniors Anthony Collins (OT) and Aqib Talib turned in their paperwork to inquire about their draft position. Both have grown close together while at school and will make their decision together. Collins has said that he won t declare unless he gets a second round grade or higher.

Prediction: Returns 65/35.

Reggie Smith, CB/S, Oklahoma. Mr. Versatile. Smith can play anywhere in the secondary as well as returns kicks and punts. He has great size for a man in the secondary. Injured in the Big 12 Championship Game (broken toe on right foot), he is also penciled to miss the team s big bowl game as well. With these late season injuries, it may force him to return for 2008.

Prediction: Returns 70/30.

Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin. Outstanding tools, but inconsistent. He flashed the ability to shut down great receivers, but then let up a big game to some of the lesser known guys. His game should transition well into the NFL as he shadows receivers downfield without riding their jerseys. Should he declare, he may have early struggles and as long as it doesn t mess with his confidence he ll be fine in the long run. Staying for his senior season might be the better idea, especially considering the talented senior class. Sources inside expect Ikegwuonu to return.

Prediction: Returns 75/25.

Justin King, CB, Penn State. He has everything it takes to make it in the NFL& great size, great speed, good athletic ability. He s been inconsistent from a game-to-game basis. He has filed for his evaluation but is 50-50 about returning. In the press conference following the team s bowl game, he said, I'm not going to show you my hand.

Prediction: Push 50/50.

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech. "I still want to see who declares (early). I want to talk it over with my family. I still have a degree I want to get," Flowers said. "I don't think it's going to come down to what the submission papers say. Whatever me and my family feel is best for me, that's what I'm going to do." He ll likely wait until after January 3rd when his team meets Kansas in the FedEx Orange Bowl.

Prediction: Returns 65/35.

Victor Macho Harris, CB, Virginia Tech. Macho Harris is looking at things with the assumption he ll return. While he filed his paperwork, he has said he is returning barring something extraordinary in which case he ll weigh it over with his coach and family. Both he and Flowers bring intensity to the defense as guys who play great in coverage and aren t afraid to stick their nose in to tackle runners.

Prediction: Returns 90/10.

Returning

Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin. An elite, undersized tight end. Wisconsin s go-to guy and will continue to be featured in this role next year. Not a great blocker, though he is improving in the area. Both he and Coach are happy for his return to Wisconsin. With yet another dynamic season, look for him to challenge for the top tight end off the board next season and should be almost a lock for the first round. (announced: 12/20)

Pat Sims, DT, Auburn. Has been a recent riser, but has been known to give inconsistent effort. He s a great talent who could produce great Combine numbers. The production and consistency isn t where it could be so he d be better off staying another year. After sitting down with Coach Tubervile, both decided that was the best decision for him. If the coaching staff can light a fire inside him, Sims has the tools to become a dominant penetrator in the middle. (announced: 12/20)

Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida. After one of the best seasons for a running back in the college history, Kevin Smith announced in a press conference Tuesday that he would return. "My decision is I will be returning to UCF next semester and next season," he said. "...I have a lot of things I want to work on. Before I make that jump I have a lot I want to accomplish and work out." If he hits the weight room, gets a little quicker, he could easily work his way into the top 15, though another 400 carry season would weight poorly on scouts. (announced 12/18)

Sean Lee, OLB, Penn State. Lee might even be a better prospect than Paul Posluszny (2nd rounder in 2007) or Dan Connor (projected top 15 in 2008). He combines instincts with size and athleticism. Accumulated 124 tackles this season but has said that he will definitely return for his senior season. (announced: 12/13)

Brian Cushing, OLB, USC. Has been plagued by injuries but has experience playing defensive end and linebacker. Projected as a late 1st round guy, he has decided to pass up the NFL and return to the Trojans next year who will compete for the National Title. Cushing knows he could have a better year and cited injuries as the big reason he ll return. (announced: 11/6)

Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC. Maualuga called it 100% that he will come back to the Trojans. He s enjoying his time in Southern Cal and has plenty of time left in his football career. He s in no rush to come out. Right now he lives off his athleticism and big hits, but will need to become a better all-around player to be a top 5 pick in next year s selection. (announced: 11/6)

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