For the second straight year, more than 100 players are giving up college eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
The league on Friday released a list of 95 underclassmen who have been granted early entry to draft, along with the names of eight other players, including Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who are draft-eligible by completing their college degrees.
Last year 96 underclassmen declared for the draft and 11 others became eligible by finishing their degrees. Of those 96 underclassmen, 66 were drafted (69 percent). In 2015, 71 percent of 74 underclassmen were drafted.
The record for underclassmen declaring for the draft is 98 in 2014.
Gil Brandt, former vice president of personnel for the Dallas Cowboys who is an analyst for the NFL Network, said more young players, with guidance from agents, are rushing to the league to position themselves better for a second contract.
Draft picks receive four-year contracts and the value of those contracts is basically determined by where a player is drafted since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. The agreement curtailed rookie salaries.
“What's taken place is that agents, they want to get guys as soon as they can because if you can get an underclassmen, when his contract comes up he's one year younger,” Brandt said.
“The story is, in that 95, there's probably 25 or 30 that really should have come out. The others they probably would have been doing a lot better by staying a year in school.”
This year's draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Browns have the first pick. Texas A&M junior defensive end Myles Garrett could be the first player picked overall.
Ohio State has six players among this year's 103 early entrants, including All-Americans Curtis Samuel and Malik Hooker.
Watson was one of four players from the national champion Tigers to enter the draft early after graduating, joining receivers Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and running back Wayne Gallman.
Among the other notable underclassmen entering the draft are star running backs Leonard Fournette of LSU, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Junior quarterbacks DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina are expected to challenge Watson to be the first quarterback drafted.
Miami's Brad Kaaya, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes and Virginia Tech's Jerod Evans are the other quarterbacks entering the draft early.
Any coaches wanting to follow Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh's lead and take a team off-campus just for practice to build their brand name and boost recruiting likely have missed that opportunity. The Power Five conferences voted Friday to stop coaches from taking teams off-campus during any vacation period outside a sport's season for practice, a rule proposed after Harbaugh took his Wolverines to Florida last year. The rule passed by a 58-22 margin at the Power Five conferences' third autonomy session at the NCAA convention and will take effect Aug. 1. The Big Ten voted 11-3 for the change. …
Tennessee has promoted Larry Scott to offensive coordinator and has hired Mike Canales as quarterbacks coach, bringing the two former South Florida colleagues back together. … Middle Tennessee has hired former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer as its defensive coordinator. … North Carolina State has hired former Wisconsin defensive back Aaron Henry to coach its safeties.