More than 100 underclassmen have declared for the 2016 NFL Draft, and the list could continue to grow.
The deadline to file paperwork with the NFL is Monday, but by all accounts this group could be the largest in history surpassing the record of 98 set back in 2014. Many of those players who declare aren’t even drafted.
Following a steady increase for more than a decade, the NFL instituted a cap on the number of grades a school could request for a player to just five. The league also streamlined the grading process to three categories – first round, second round and neither – in hopes of making the choice easier.
It appeared to work – for at least one season – as the number of underclassmen declaring dropped to 74 in 2015. But the problem appears to have reared up again with this class.
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South Carolina lost just one player to the draft, but it was a big one in receiver Pharoh Cooper. The junior was the Gamecocks’ leading receiver with 66 receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns.
Among those declaring are five members of No. 2 Clemson, which lost to Alabama in the national championship game.
Jayron Kearse, MacKensie Alexander, Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd and T.J. Green, all previously announced they will turn professional. But the Tigers got some good news with the return of draft-eligible players Wayne Gallman (RB), Carlos Watkins (DT), Jordan Leggett (TE) and Cordrea Tankersley (CB).
Travis Blanks, a junior in eligibility who graduated from Clemson in December, had announced earlier that this would be his final year and that he would pursue a professional career.