Early entries for NFL draft drops to 74

Published 2:13 am Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — A record number of undrafted underclassmen in 2014 may have dissuaded a few players from leaving school early for this year’s NFL draft.

The early-entry list includes 74 players, with an additional 10 who became eligible for the draft after notifying the NFL they had graduated.

A year ago, a record 98 players were granted special eligibility into the draft, leading to a record 36 underclassmen who went undrafted. It’s the first time since 2009 the number of early-entry players dropped from the previous year.

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Florida State, which played in the College Football Playoff semifinals, had the most early entries with five, including quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, was among the players who became eligible after graduating. His teammate, defensive end Erik Armstead, also is leaving early after leading the Ducks to the national title game, where they lost to Ohio State.

The Buckeyes had no players on the early-entry list after quarterback Cardale Jones decided to return to school.

Mariota will be joined by the two other Heisman Trophy finalists. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin’s record-setting running back, is leaving after his junior year, as is Alabama receiver Amari Cooper.

The early-entry list included five other players who were Associated Press first-team All-Americans: Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, Texas offensive lineman Malcom Brown, Alabama safety Landon Collins and Louisville safety Gerod Holliman.

The NFL Draft is April 30 through May 2 in Chicago.