As the junior declaration process continues, many fans of the NFL Draft focus their time on the “known” juniors. But keep in mind that the rule is “three years out of high school”, so fans should also keep in mind for redshirt sophomores, sometimes not as easy to track and find.
Below is 17 redshirt juniors who could consider (strongly or not) the 2013 NFL Draft, and here’s some notes on them in anticipation that they follow through with their consideration.
MDD Lead Editor/Scout: Eric Galko
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Maybe the most talented draft eligible running back, Bernard has the balance, body control, explosive burst, and ideal pad level to be a feature back in the NFL. He’s still undecided about his future, but if he can test/interview well, his film may be enough to make him a fringe 1st round running back.
Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers (See game vs. Louisville)
Jamison isn’t an elite talent at running back, but does possess the ideal balance, subtle cuts/steps, and patience as a running back to last in the NFL. He lacks the big play ability, but his ability to run with ideal pad level will get some teams excited. Like with many other Rutgers eligible-to-declare underclassmen, I wouldn’t be surprised if he declares at all.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
The former Oregon transfer, Seastrunk has only had this year to showcase his ability. But with his play thus far this year (specifically his impressive Kansas State performance ), and Glasco Martin already in line to take some of Baylor’s carries again this year, the explosive runner could consider the NFL.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers (See game vs. Louisville)
Similar to Jawan Jamison of Rutgers, I’d be more surprised if Coleman doesn’t declare than if he does. He’s had his ups and downs this year and is far from a finished product. But he’ll certaintly look the part in at the NFL Combine if he does declare and could be a mid to high second round pick if he impresses the way I’d expect in workouts.
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The 6’3, 320+ pound force in the middle of the Notre Dame defense, Nix hasn’t gotten enough credit for the Notre Dame success this season. Nix has been able to open up rush lanes and allow for openings for Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame linebackers all year. While it may not be wise to declare in such a defensive tackle-talented draft class, he would be battling for one of the top spots if he does declare.
George Uko, DT, USC
The USC top inside rusher, Uko has been solid this year in the middle in the defensive tackle rotation. He hasn’t had the type of season that a defender should really consider the NFL Draft, but he has the ideal size, has flashed the interior rushing ability, and his defensive coordinator is gone. All variables to consider for Uko, though seems likely he’ll be back next year.
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
A combination of size (around 6’3, 260 as of now with room to grow) and production (9 sacks this year), Crichton is an up and coming star in the Pac-12 even with the talent in the conference. He’s still a bit raw, but his ability to finish tackles in the backfield and his ability to consistently generate pressure could make him at least consider the 2013 NFL Draft.
Marcus Rush, DE, Michigan State
Michigan State’s struggled this year as a team, and part of that was from an inconsistent pass rush all year long. Marcus Rush didn’t develop the way I expected, but the 6’2, 245 pound future 3-4 rusher, he has the upside and may test quite well at the Combine. Unlikely to consider the draft, he’ll be in the NFL soon, and if his defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi leaves, he may strongly consider it as well.
Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford
Part of a loaded Stanford defense that has a full cupboard for the next few years, Anderson’s impact on the Stanford defensive front is quite apparent when you watch them, especially his control in the middle of the field against Oregon. I wouldn’t expect he or AJ Tarpley (below) to declare, but he certainly has an NFL future and maybe a 1st round selection in his future.
Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
In a loaded Alabama defense, it’s easy to lose focus on underclassmen with the derth of talent they have. I asked Optimum Scouting’s Alex Brown about Hubbard, and he said Hubbard has “impressive physical tools, jumps off the tape at times with combination of size/strength and speed” and has “tremndous body type”. It’d be wise for Hubbard to return and possibly become the next in a line of Alabama linebacker first rounders, but it’s not out of the question with his upside.
Dion Bailey, OLB, USC
A former safety, Bailey moved to linebacker in 2011 and was one of the best linebackers on the field for USC all season. He may be a linebacker/safety in-betweener when his NFL Draft time does come, but it’d be a big mistake if he considered it this year. But, his defensive coordinator has left, and that could leave him with some concerns long-term.
AJ Tarpley, ILB, Stanford
He gets a bit overshadowed (and for good reason) with Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas at linebacker for this team, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the best of the bunch in 4-5 years. I doubt he’ll declare this year, as he’s in line to be the star of the defense in 2013, but he should be among the top linebackers for the 2014/2015 draft, whenever he does decide to declare.
Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UConn
For whatever reason, UConn has had a consistent stream of linebacker prospects each and every year. And while Sio Moore is solid in his own right, the tackling machine and well built yet balance and fluid in space Smallwood could be an elite prospect in the future if he can test well for his size. I wouldn’t say to come out this year, but his upside and production is obvious.
Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The final Stanford Cardinal member on this list, Reynolds has been a fantastic ballhawk for this secondary this year, reaction well in deep coverage and taking advantage of poor throws/reads by the quarterback. One of the interception leaders in college football, he may consider the NFL Draft in a fairly weak-at-the-top safety class, but he’d be more inclined to stick around another year (or two) to develop and possibly develop into a surefire 1st rounder in a safety-needy NFL.