2011 NFL Draft Gets a Boost as Underclassmen Deadline Passes

Heisman Winner and National Champion Auburn QB Cameron Newton was one of several high profile underclassmen to declare for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft

The final list of underclassmen declaring for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft is completed and this year’s group is a record-breaker.  Though there could be a rookie salary cap on the horizon, a record 56 underclassmen declared for the draft this year — surpassed the former record of 53 underclassmen declaring for the 2008 and 2010 NFL drafts.

This year’s draft class’ pedigree definitely increased with the infusion of younger talent.  Despite marquee quarterback, Oliver Luck (Stanford),  preferring to play against the little guys for another season in college, this year’s NFL draft class is shaping up to be fairly deep. The four positions that seemed to benefit the most from underclassmen joining the fray are Defensive Line (Fairley, Bowers, Watt and others) Quarterback (Mallett, Newton, and Gabbert); Wide Receiver (Green, Cobb, Baldwin, and others); and Running Back (Dion Lewis, Mark Ingram, Evans and others);

One note that all the declaring underclassmen should have noticed was that the NFL still making a concerted effort to draft seniors, so some of the youngsters better expect to go the undrafted free agent route.  In the 2010 NFL Draft, there were only 46 underclassmen drafted compared to 209 seniors.  However on the flipside,  last year’s draft produced 17 underclassmen first rounders including first overall pick St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford.

The underclassman whom I will be most interested in seeing where he lands in the upcoming draft is Heisman Trophy winner and National Championship quarterback Cameron Newton from Auburn. The dual-threat quarterback put up spectacular numbers in the 2010 college football season including 185-280, 2854 yards, 66.1 %, 30 TDs and 7 INTs with a 182.05 quarterback rating.  Plus Newton rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 TDs as he joined Tim Tebow and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the only players in NCAA history to compile 20+ touchdowns passing  and rushing in the same season.  On the upside, I see the junior eligible as a cross between talented Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman and veteran Donovan McNabb.  However you also have to wonder if he could be the next Akili Smith (1-year college wonder) or Vince Young (talented, but undisciplined) at the next level.

Underclassmen who have declared for the 2011 NFL draft

Player  Position College Class
Darvin Adams WR Auburn JR
Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA JR
Jon Baldwin WR Pittsburgh JR
Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson JR
DeAndre Brown WR Southern Miss JR
Brandon Burton CB Utah JR
Jurrell Casey DT Southern Cal JR
John Clay RB Wisconsin JR
Nick Claytor OT Georgia Tech JR
Randall Cobb WR Kentucky JR
Marcell Dareus DT Alabama JR
Tandon Doss WR Indiana JR
Darren Evans RB Virginia Tech JR
Nick Fairley DT Auburn JR
Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri JR
A.J. Green WR Georgia JR
Tori Gurley WR South Carolina SO – RS
Lawrence Guy DT Arizona St. JR
Jamel Hamler WR Fresno St. JR
Jamie Harper RB Clemson JR
Brandon Harris CB Miami (FL) JR
Will Hill S Florida JR
Justin Houston OLB Georgia JR
Henry Hynoski FB Pittsburgh JR
Mark Ingram RB Alabama JR
Julio Jones WR Alabama JR
Taiwan Jones RB Eastern Washington JR
Tom Keiser OLB Stanford JR
Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois JR
Dion Lewis RB Pittsburgh SO – RS
Javes Lewis CB Oregon JR
Greg Little WR North Carolina JR
Corey Liuget DT Illinois JR
Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas JR
Rahim Moore S UCLA JR
Cam Newton QB Auburn JR
Zane Parr DE Virginia JR
Patrick Peterson CB L.S.U. JR
Robert Quinn DE North Carolina JR
Stevan Ridley RB L.S.U. JR
Jacquizz Rodgers RB Oregon St. JR
Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame JR
Robert Sands S West Virginia JR
Tyler Sash S Iowa JR
Sealver Siliga DT Utah JR
Aldon Smith DE Missouri SO – RS
Torrey Smith WR Maryland JR
Tyron Smith OT Southern Cal JR
Jerrard Tarrant S Georgia Tech JR
Jordan Todman RB Connecticut JR
Shane Vereen RB California JR
J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin JR
Muhammad Wilkerson DT Temple JR
Aaron Williams CB Texas JR
Ryan Williams RB Virginia Tech SO – RS
Martez Wilson ILB Illinois JR


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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