2016 NFL Draft early entries: 5 teams hurt most
How good are the 2016 NFL Draft early entries? Where are they all likely to be taken?
2016 Early Entries: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OL | DEs | DTs | LBs | CBs | Safeties
With nearly 100 sophomores and juniors declaring for early entry into the 2016 NFL Draft, few programs were spared the fallout of the decisions of many of the game's best non-seniors. A select handful of schools, though, were sucker-punched particularly hard by the one-two combination of lost talent and depleted depth. For those programs, the offseason ahead will be especially important for finding new starters and rebuilding a two-deep that's going to be dotted with new faces and first-time contributors.
5 Teams Hit Hardest By NFL Draft Early Entries
The Gators lost five key juniors to the NFL, putting a hurdle in front of Jim McElwain as he looks to build on his solid debut in Gainesville.
Obviously, Florida's biggest hit—and smallest surprise—was Vernon Hargreaves, who could be the first cornerback taken in late April. However, the program didn't count on losing four other players, including last year's 1,000-yard rusher (Kelvin Taylor), leading pass-catcher (Demarcus Robinson) and a pair of veteran defensive contributors (DE Alex McCallister and S Keanu Neal). With only CB Jalen Tabor returning, the secondary will command a lot of attention this spring and summer.
4. Notre Dame
Five Irish players submitted their names to the NFL Draft advisory board. All five elected to leave South Bend with remaining eligibility.
Notre Dame will move forward without three elite players, LT Ronnie Stanley, LB Jaylon Smith and WR Will Fuller. Smith suffered a debilitating knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, yet still figures to get scooped up in the opening round. Also gone are CB KeiVarae Russell, who's coming off an average season, and C.J. Prosise, who won't be difficult to replace. Starter Tarean Folston returns from injury, and rookie Josh Adams is set to handle a bigger role in 2016.
Shortly after tearing his meniscus last October, LB Myles Jack withdrew from the university, setting the tone for a rough start to the offseason for the Bruins.
In all, six UCLA players bolted to the NFL, including All-Pac-12 performers from both sides of the ball. Joining Jack from the defense is Kenny Clark, one of the nation's premier defensive tackles. The offense is moving forward without four important starters, linemen Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond, clutch receiver Thomas Duarte and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Paul Perkins. The withdrawal of Perkins sets the stage for a compelling battle at running back between underclassmen Nate Starks and Soso Jamabo.
At this level, success almost always comes with a hefty price tag.
Win big and there's going to be fallout, either assistants being promoted by other schools or stars moving on to the professional ranks. The Tigers have kept their staff intact, but seven sophomores and juniors are foregoing their existing eligibility. The offense will be fine, especially since RB Wayne Gallman is rejoining Deshaun Watson in the backfield. Brent Venables' D, though, was hammered, losing a whopping six starters, headlined by the bookend of Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd and DBs Mackensie Alexander, Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green.
1. Ohio State
How bad was the early entry situation for the Buckeyes? Even a former Ohio State player, DE Noah Spence, got in on the act by declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Urban Meyer accepted the resignations of nine former players, a jailbreak usually reserved for the likes of LSU. But the volume of personnel losses is testament to the caliber of players being courted by Meyer and his staff, and is likely to continue in the coming years. The Buckeyes will be missing both quantity and quality, including RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Michael Thomas, DE Joey Bosa, LB Darron Lee, CB Eli Apple and S Vonn Bell. While Ohio State is built to retool, this team needs an awful lot of fresh faces to step up next fall.
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