Darnold, Rosen, Jackson among 119 underclassmen in NFL draft
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By RALPH D. RUSSO
Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson and Josh Rosen are among the record 106 underclassmen given special entry to the NFL draft, making it four of the last five seasons in which at least 95 players have declared early.
The NFL on Friday released the official list of college players who have requested early entry . Another 13 players who had eligibility remaining are eligible for the draft after notifying the NFL that they had completed requirements for a degree, including Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Another four players, including Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee, had inquired about their draft status and were eligible without the need for special eligibility.
Of the 119 underclassmen heading into the draft, LSU has the most with seven players. Florida State and Texas have six players each. The NFL draft will be held April 26-28 in Dallas.
The previous high for underclassmen given special entry by the NFL was 98 in 2014. Last season, there were 95 players given special entry, and the year before there were 96. That number was 74 in 2015, according to the NFL.
Of the 95 underclassmen allowed into the draft last year, 28 (29.5 percent) were not drafted. In 2016, 31 percent (30 of 96) went undrafted.
Last season, the top four picks in the draft and 11 of the top 12 were underclassmen, either having been granted special eligibility or having completed a degree. Underclassmen are likely to again be prominent at the top of the first round, led by Darnold and Rosen. The quarterback-starved Cleveland Browns have the first and fourth picks overall in the draft.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith are among the other juniors considered among the best players available at their positions and possible top-15 picks.
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Updated January 19, 2018