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Draft Blog: Underclassmen Officially Declare

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Underclassmen Declaration Deadline Passes

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft occurred on Monday and it appears as though a record amount have decided to conclude their college careers and take their talents to the NFL. According to NFL.com, approximately 100 underclassmen have declared for the NFL, which is right around the record number of 98 from two years ago.

The subject of underclassmen declaring is a tricky subject to navigate. On one hand, some of the best players, like Joey Bosa, Jared Goff and Ezekiel Elliot, deserve to take their talents to the NFL and monetize their ability to excel at playing football; however, many players make the mistake of forgoing their college career despite the fact that getting drafted is not a guarantee. In 2014, 36 out 98 underclassmen who declared for the draft didn’t get drafted.

This year will likely be no different as a huge chunk of the underclassmen will not hear their name called during the draft. Also, there are a number of underclassmen who will get drafted, but who could significantly boost their draft stock with another year of college seasoning.

One head-scratching decision was Auburn running back Peyton Barber. The redshirt-sophomore is a prime example of a player who should have went back to school to improve his draft stock. He is undoubtedly an extremely talented running back, but the fact that he has little tape to go off of and that this running back class is loaded makes his draft stock at a much lower spot that his talent suggests. if he would have went back to school, he could have elevated his stock to a point that made it worth declaring.

East-West Shrine Game Week Begins

The second-biggest postseason bowl game began on Monday as the East-West Shrine Game practices started on Monday. Despite the fact that you won’t see a great deal of top-50 selections, it is still littered with a ton of talent that will make a big impact on Sundays.

Here are a few names to keep your eye on throughout the week and on gameday:

Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts, Wide Receiver

Tajae Sharpe is a big-bodied receiver who didn’t receive a ton of publicity because he came from a small school. The Minuteman wideout has smooth field and soft hands, which allow him to create separation and take advantage of his opportunities.

Victor Ochi, Stony Brook, Edge Defender

Another small-school standout, Victor Ochi, has a lot of the traits that teams covet in a pass-rush specialist. He doesn’t have the size or length that you want, but his speed, bend and hand usage are very mature for a player his age. Ochi could become a great pass-rush specialist in the NFL as he bulks up and learns how to utilize his lower body to take on blocks.

Anthony Zettel, Penn State, Defensive Tackle

The Penn State defensive tackle was tabbed as a first-round pick before the college football season began; however, a less-than-stellar year has dropped his stock considerably. When he is at his best, Anthony Zettel is a great gap-splitting defensive tackle who uses his hands and quickness to make plays in the backfield. He tends to struggle with his balance, but when he is on his two feet, Zettel is hard to deal with. Look for him to dominate the one-on-ones throughout the week in Florida.

Carson Wentz Could Be The First Quarterback Taken In The Draft

The draft community was set ablaze on Monday when former NFL scout and current NFL Network analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, published his first big board of the season. Jeremiah had a ton of interesting takes that go against the consensus at this point in the draft process. For example, he had Baylor receiver Corey Coleman ranked above Ole Miss’s Laquon Treadwell and he had Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd ranked above his highly-touted teammate Shaq Lawson.

Nevertheless, the ranking that had everybody talking was in regards to the order he ranked the quarterbacks. Most draft analysts had either California quarterback Carson Wentz or Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch at the top; however, Jeremiah had North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz as the highest ranked quarterback.

In regards to Wentz, Jeremiah stated:

Wentz was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Bison. He lines up both under center and in the shotgun in this offense. He has quick feet in his setup and he throws from a wide, firm base. He is very quick to work through progressions and he throws with excellent touch and anticipation. He is very accurate underneath and intermediate but he has been inconsistent with his deep-ball accuracy. He has a quick release and he can throw from a variety of arm angles. The ball doesn’t jump out of his hand but he has enough velocity to make all of the throws. He is very athletic to create plays with his legs and he’s effective on designed QB runs. He is extremely tough to hang in the pocket vs. pressure and he’s played really well in big games. Overall, Wentz has an enticing blend of size, ability and toughness. Don’t be fooled by his level of competition. He’s a big-time talent.

Wentz has the size, arm talent and athleticism that makes his an enticing choice for any team looking for a quarterback of the future. At the moment, Wentz’s best fit would be to get selected by the Dallas Cowboys, as Jeremiah stated in his mock draft. It would give him the enviable position to sit and develop behind a great quarterback while also giving him a great array of weapons and a dominant offensive line to grow with when he takes over.

There is still a long ways to go as to who will be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft; however, it looks like it is a three-horse race, instead of two like we originally believed.

 


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com