2014 NFL Draft: Predicting Which Underclassmen Prospects Will Declare

A record 73 underclassmen opted to declare for the 2013 NFL draft. That high number of early defections has obviously diminished the talent level of the 2014 draft class Luckily, though, there are plenty of elite top underclassmen prospects who should bolster the depleted group.

Heralded stars such as South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota have been the big-name star underclassmen players who have received the majority of the attention this season. However, there are plenty of other notable underclassmen who deserve high praise and recognition as well.

With just two weeks remaining in the college football regular season, we’ve now entered a time when many of the sport’s top eligible underclassmen prospects will have to seriously start to consider whether to declare for the 2014 draft or come back to school.  It’s a make-or-break decision that will play a pivotal role in many of college football’s top stars’ future career paths.

So which underclassmen will declare for the 2014 NFL Draft?

As we head into the home stretch of the college football regular season, here’s a look at the underclassmen prospects who I currently project to declare for the 2014 draft.

Quarterbacks

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 4

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Blake Bortles, UCF

The Top 10 Quarterbacks Who Are Projected to Return

  • Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
  • Braxton Miller, Ohio State
  • Brett Hundley, UCLA
  • Brett Smith, Wyoming
  • Bryce Petty, Baylor
  • Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
  • Devin Gardner, Michigan
  • Kevin Hogan, Stanford
  • Sean Mannion, Oregon State
  • Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

Running Backs

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 11

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Lache Seastrunk, Baylor

Jeremy Hill, LSU

Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

Jerome Smith, Syracuse

Bishop Sankey, Washington

De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

Devonta Freeman, Florida State

Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State

Storm Johnson, UCF

Michael Dyer, Louisville

The Top 10 Running Backs Who Are Projected to Return

  • Adam Muema, San Diego State
  • Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
  • Brendan Bigelow, California
  • Dominique Brown, Louisville
  • George Atkinson III, Notre Dame
  • Henry Josey, Missouri
  • James Wilder Jr., Florida State
  • Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
  • Kenny Hilliard, LSU
  • Tre Mason, Auburn

Wide Receivers

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 13

Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

Jarvis Landry, LSU

Marqise Lee, USC

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Allen Robinson, Penn State

Brandon Coleman, Rutgers

Paul Richardson, Colorado

Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss

Devante Parker, Louisville

Davante Adams, Fresno State

The Top 10 Wide Receivers Who Are Projected to Return

  • Antwan Goodley, Baylor
  • Cody Latimer, Indiana
  • Jamison Crowder, Duke
  • Jordan Leslie, UTEP
  • Josh Harper, Fresno State
  • Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
  • Justin Hardy, East Carolina
  • Matt Miller, Boise State
  • Rashad Greene, Florida State
  • Ty Montgomery, Stanford


Tight Ends

Total Projected Underclassmen Prospects: 4

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

Colt Lyerla, ex-Oregon

The Top 10 Tight Ends Who Are Projected to Return

  • A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
  • Clive Walford, Miami
  • Jake McGee, Virginia
  • Jake Murphy, Utah
  • Kyle Carter, Penn State
  • Nick O’Leary, Florida State
  • Randall Telfer, USC
  • Richard Rodgers, California
  • Rory Anderson, South Carolina
  • Xavier Grimble, USC

Offensive Tackles

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 5

Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

Cameron Erving, Florida State

Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

The Top 10 Offensive Tackles Who Are Projected to Return

  • Cameron Fleming Stanford
  • Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
  • Greg Robinson, Auburn
  • Jake Fisher, Oregon
  • La’El Collins, LSU
  • Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
  • Sean Hickey, Syracuse
  • Spencer Drango, Baylor
  • Torrian Wilson, UCF
  • Tyler Johnstone, Oregon

Interior Linemen

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 3

David Yankey, Stanford

Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA

Hroniss Grasu, Oregon

The Top 10 Interior Linemen Who Are Projected to Return

  • AJ Cann, South Carolina
  • Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
  • Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
  • Josue Matias, Florida State
  • Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
  • Malcolm Bunche, Miami
  • Russell Bodine, North Carolina
  • Ryan Kelly, Alabama
  • Trai Turner, LSU
  • Tre Jackson, Florida State

Defensive Tackles

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 5

Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

Louis Nix, Notre Dame

Anthony Johnson, LSU

Ego Ferguson, LSU

Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina

The Top 10 Defensive Tackles Who Are Projected to Return

  • Carl Davis, Iowa
  • Christian Covington, Rice
  • Danny Shelton, Washington
  • George Uko, USC
  • Grady Jarrett, Clemson
  • Leon Orr, Florida
  • Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
  • Michael Bennett, Ohio State
  • Thomas Teal, NC State
  • Tyeler Davison, Fresno State


Defensive Ends

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 7

Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Kony Ealy, Missouri

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

Vic Beasley, Clemson

Shawn Oakman, Baylor

Scott Crichton, Oregon State

Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

The Top 10 Defensive Ends Who Are Projected To Return

  • Aaron Lynch, South Florida
  • Anthony Chickillo, Miami
  • Brock Hekking, Nevada
  • Cedric Reed, Texas
  • Henry Anderson, Stanford
  • Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama
  • Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
  • Randy Gregory, Nebraska
  • Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
  • Trey Flowers, Arkansas

Linebackers

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 5

Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut

AJ Johnson, Tennessee

Carl Bradford, Arizona State

Eric Kendricks, UCLA

The Top 10 Linebackers Who Are Projected To Return

  • Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
  • Amarlo Herrera, Georgia
  • Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
  • Denzel Perryman, Miami
  • Hayes Pullard, USC
  • Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech
  • Jake Ryan, Michigan
  • Jordan Hicks, Texas
  • Ronald Powell, Florida
  • Trey Depriest, Alabama

Cornerbacks

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 7

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida

Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Marcus Roberson, Florida

Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

Byron Jones, Connecticut

Victor Hampton, South Carolina

The Top 10 Cornerbacks Who Are Projected To Return

  • Blake Countess, Michigan
  • Damian Swann, Georgia
  • Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
  • Justin Cox, Mississippi State
  • Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
  • Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
  • Quandre Diggs, Texas
  • Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
  • Tim Scott, North Carolina
  • Wayne Lyons, Stanford

Safeties

Total Projected Underclassmen Declarations: 4

Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama

Ed Reynolds, Stanford

Calvin Pryor, Louisville

Dion Bailey, USC

The Top 10 Safeties Who Are Projected to Return

  • Adrian Amos, Penn State
  • Corey Moore, Georgia
  • Derron Smith, Fresno State
  • Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky
  • Jordan Richards, Stanford
  • Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
  • Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech
  • Ronald Martin, LSU
  • Sam Carter, TCU
  • Tevin McDonald, Eastern Washington
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