With just 10 days to go until the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, we’re starting to get a better idea of what pool of talent will be available. It’s a big week for many draft-eligible underclassmen as those projected to go early in the draft decide whether to stay in school or leave early. These early-entrants will have an effect on the mock drafts leading up to the real thing in a few months.
So far this week, here’s what we’ve seen.
Da’Quan Bowers: The Clemson defensive end is reportedly in the draft. Bowers is, according to the prospect rankings and mock drafts, the top defensive end and a likely top-five pick. It was a no-brainer for Bowers to declare.
Kyle Rudolph: A talented tight end from Notre Dame, Rudolph was hamstrung (get it!) with a hamstring injury in 2010. Despite missing much of the season, he’s in. If he can stay healthy, he could do great things. That health, however, has been in question for quite some time.
Blaine Gabbert: The Missouri quarterback is in and likely in the first round. He won’t be mentioned in the same league as Andrew Luck — and nobody will — but Gabbert could be one of the first quarterbacks off the board.
Akeem Ayers: Another no-brainer. Ayers is one of the most talented players in the Pac-10 and was clearly ready for the jump to the next level. Ayers finished 2010 with strong stats from his outside linebacker position and is likely a first round pick come April.
The biggest name of all, Andrew Luck, has yet to decide whether he’ll stay one more year at Stanford or make the leap to the NFL. With 10 days left until the deadline, expect plenty of action from underclassmen as players choose between education and college or the money of the NFL.