Number of underclassmen to be granted draft eligibility sets record

With the NFL Combines closely approaching it is interesting to note that the number of underclassmen who\’ve been granted draft eligibility is up for 2012. The 2012 NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 this year.  According to the NFL, 65 players met the NFL\’s three-year eligibility rule, a jump from just 56 in 2011.  The new numbers show that this year\’s numbers set an all-time high for underclassmen filing their written applications renouncing their eligibility by the Sunday deadline.

With movement in NFL team offices across the league, it will be an important year for general managers as they scramble to scout the underclassmen.  In the past underclassmen scouting started later because clubs would wait to see if players decided to return to school or declare.  NFL teams with intentions of hiring new general managers may have an even more difficult time if they can\’t secure that office position in time to thread their way through an even larger draft class.

Underclassmen who meet the special eligibility are typically redshirt sophomores and juniors.  Add those 65 players to an already large senior class and you get a better understanding of the task ahead for managers, agents and scouts.  The first regional NFL Combine will start at the end of January in Los Angeles.  They will continue around the league in Houston, Baltimore, Tampa, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Cleveland through Mar. 17, 2011.  The main 2012 NFL Combine will be held Feb. 22-28, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis followed by a super-regional even Mar. 30-12, 2012, at Ford Field in Detroit.

It will be a busy Spring for most teams as they scurry to fill empty player positions and do their homework on players that might fill those positions and possibly become key players in their organizations.

The players granted special eligibility for the 2012 NFL Draft include (in alphabetical order):

Player Name

Position

College

Alexander, Alvester

Running Back

Wyoming

Allen, Dwayne

Tight End

Clemson

Baker, Edwin

Running Back

Michigan State

Ball, Mike

Running Back

Nevada

Berryhill, Jamison

Running Back

Texas

Blackmon, Justin

Wide Receiver

Oklahoma State

Brockers, Michael

Defensive Tackle

Louisiana State

Brown, Bryce

Running Back

Kansas State

Burfict, Vontaze

Linebacker

Arizona State

Charles, Orson

Tight End

Georgia

Claiborne, Morris

Defensive Back

Louisiana State

Cox, Fletcher

Defensive Tackle

Mississippi State

DeCastro, David

Guard

Stanford

Eure, Tiree

Tight End

Minnesota

Forston, Marcus

Defensive Tackle

Miami

Gilmore, Stephon

Defensive Back

South Caronlina

Givens, Chris

Wide Receiver

Wake Forest

Graham, Dorian

Wide Receiver

Syracuse

Griffin, Robert

Quarterback

Baylor

Hampton, Jewel

Running Back

Southern Illinois

Harris, Cliff

Defensive Back

Oregon

Hightower, Dont\’a

Linebacker

Alabama

Hill, Stephen

Wide Receiver

Georgia Tech

Hillman, Ronnie

Running Back

San Diego State

Holloway, Max

Defensive End

Boston College

Hosley, Jayron

Defensive Back

Virginia Tech

Jackson, Janzen

Defensive Back

McNeese State

James, LaMichael

Running Back

Oregon

Jeffery, Alshon

Wide Receiver

South Carolina

Johnson, Aldarius

Wide Receiver

Miami

Johnson, Damaris

Wide Receiver

Tulsa

Jones, Chandler

Defensive End

Syracuse

Kalil, Matt

Tackle

Southern California

Kirkpatrick, Dre

Defensive Back

Alabama

Konz, Peter

Center

Wisconsin

Kuechly, Luke

Linebacker

Boston College

Lewis, Ronnell

Defensive End

Oklahoma

Luck, Andrew

Quarterback

Stanford

Manning, Terrell

Linebacker

North Carolina State

Martin, Jonathan

Tackle

Stanford

Massie, Bobby

Tackle

Mississippi

Mercilus, Whitney

Defensive End

Illinois

Miller, Lamar

Running Back

Miami

Osweiler, Brock

Quarterback

Arizona State

Page, Eric

Wide Receiver

Toledo

Paige-Moss, Donte

Defensive End

North Carolina

Perry, Nick

Defensive End

Southern California

Pierce, Bernard

Running Back

Temple

Plue, Ken

Guard

Purdue

Poe, Dontari

Defensive Tackle

Memphis

Randle, Rueben

Wide Receiver

Louisiana State

Reiff, Riley

Tackle

Iowa

Richardson, Trent

Running Back

Alabama

Robinson, Josh

Defensive Back

Central Florida

Samu, Mohamed

Wide Receiver

Rutgers

Scott, Darrell

Running Back

South Florida

Streeter, Tommy

Wide Receiver

Miami

Thomas, Darron

Quarterback

Oregon

Thomas, Johnny

Defensive Back

Oklahoma State

Thomas, Phillip

Defensive Back

Syracuse

Trotter, Barrett

Quarterback

Auburn

Vernon, Olivier

Defensive End

Miami

Washington, Brandon

Tackle

Miami

Wilson, Davis

Running Back

Virginia Tech

Worthy, Jerel

Defensive Tackle

Michigan State

Born in 1972, Christina L. Rivers follows in her maternal Grandmother's shoes as a writer. Christina is currently a journalist for Examiner.com, and writes for several blogs. She has recently been added as a writer for SteelersDepot and 'The Beam' in Pittsburgh. Christina's favorite Steelers players of all-time are Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. She is active on Twitter @3Rivers_Writer. Christina also enjoys collecting NFL cards, and has over 5,000 individual Steelers cards, some as old as the late 1950s.
  • pavlisko

    Dave,
    Could you speculate on our possible first and second round draft picks. Do we have a chane at DeCastro with the 24th pick. The Steelers love value, but with our opponents in 2012, we need to give ben some time by drafting O linemen. As you wrote previously. I can imagine a Steeler world where healthy BigBen gets as much time as the quarterback in New Orleans. And we Run the ball, too.

    Colbert is awesome, but it’s driving me crazy that we don’t shore up the O-line early in the draft.

    Go Steelers!
    Pavlisko