NFL

2011 NFL Draft: 10 Underclassmen Who Will Stay in School

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Andrew Luck's decision to stay at Stanford for his 4th year (he'll be a red-shirt junior) was shocking to some. I talked about before in a previous article that it was a very real possibility thanks to his father's influence and his desire to finish college.

While these ten prospects likely don't have the same agenda as Luck does about staying in school, these ten prospects would benefit their skills and draft stock by staying for their senior year in college.

Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Not a household name to some, but he was outstanding last year next to Ndamukong Suh, who didn't face nearly as many double teams as he would have without Crick. He struggled a bit finding his identity as a defensive tackle, likely because of the loss of Suh.

Next year, Baker Steinkuhler and Terrence Moore return next to him at defensive tackle, and can really continue Crick's development as a complete defensive tackle. He may consider declaring with a lackluster group of DTs, but he could be a Top 15 pick next year if he continues to develop.

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Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
Look no further than the Sugar Bowl game for Adams. He was one of the most productive talents on this team this season, and became Mallett's go to guy once Greg Childs went down with an injury.

However, his inconsistent hands both during the year and in that game will be a concern for scouts looking at the receiver, and he can improve as a more well-rounded receiver with another year of he and Childs. And while Mallett's likely going to bolt for the NFL, Tyler Wilson didn't look bad at all for next year.

Derek Moye, WR, Penn State
There are lots of issues with the Penn State program right now, from Tom Bradley likely leaving the defense for the Pittsburgh/UConn football job, to Matt McGloin's five interception bowl game, to Robert Bolden being denied his request to leave the program.

However, Derek Moye has been a consistent bright spot, and being one of the better recruits in recent year, Penn State has put an emphasis on getting him the ball. And I think with another year with McGloin at quarterback or just an overall development  of that offense could push Moye into the first round next year.

Tank Carder, ILB, TCU
The hero of the Rose Bowl for the winning TCU Horned Frogs was their 1st team All-American and defensive leader in Tank Carder. He is a very instinctive linebacker who can play in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.

But as long as Gary Patterson is around, this offense and defense will continue to be very productive. And with Carder being a returning productive linebacker, he can improve in his drops as a pass coverage guy, and become a stronger athlete and still move well. He could be a mid to high 1st round draft pick in 2012.

Miami (FL) Wide Receivers
The best receiver for Miami this year may have been their least athletically gifted in Leonard Hankerson, and he's top two round-type of athletic and a senior. The second best receiver on the team was LaRon Byrd, a junior, who is more of a complete receiver and consistent, but doesn't stand out as a number one receiver in the pros.

The next two juniors were expected to build off of promising 2009 seasons, but didn't. Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson are very athletically gifted, with Benjamin being a playmaker with his speed and Johnson a physical body that can dominate. However, neither played well or consistently enough to put their stock as high as it could, and they could improve with Al Golden and Stephen Morris at quarterback next year.

Sean Spence, OLB, Miami (FL)
Another Miami (FL) name, Spence is undersized for an inside linebacker in most schemes, but will likely play their in a Cover 2 defense in the NFL. If he declared this year, he'd be a fringe top four round guy because of question marks about his Cover 2 fit or strong safety switch.

However, Al Golden has made average athletes like Alex Joseph and Elisha Joseph into legit NFL prospects, and his overall defense at Temple may have as many as six guys draft in this year's draft. If he can do that at Temple, he can really boost Spence's stock for another year.

Will Hill, S, Florida
Hill is the prototypical safety based on size, speed, and strength. However, Hill has been extremely inconsistent this year. He lacks the instincts both on the receiver, with the ball in the air, and in the run game.

Another year at Florida means one with Will Muschamp, who has put numerous defensive backs in the NFL in his time at Texas, and runs a defense that puts pressure on the quarterback and allows defensive backs good opportunities to succeed.

Ohio State Suspended Players
Jim Tressell told the media that he would not have let his players play in the eventually won Sugar Bowl if they weren't going to stay in school for next year. And while that sounds great, until January 16th, it means next to nothing.

Terrelle Pryor has gotten the most attention as a possible declarer, but he needs A LOT of work as a drop back passer if he hopes to make the NFL at the position. DeVier Posey was the first to say that he planned on staying, and another year with is athletic ability to develop, he could be a 1st rounder. Mike Adams at offensive tackle and Daniel Herron could use another year, and both could be mid to high round picks next year as well.

Nick Foles, Arizona
It may seem odd that a talented quarterback should stay in school like Andrew Luck, but Foles should also take note at the other quarterbacks in this draft class. Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett are likely to bolt, and Blaine Gabbert already said he was gone.

Next year, outside of Luck, the number two spot is wide open. Foles is a 3rd-4th round developmental type guy now, but if he can develop his on the move passing ability and footwork, he could be a fringe 1st-2nd rounder by mid next season.

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
One of my and Optimum Scouting's personal favorites as far as quarterbacks go, Cousins has the arm strength, tough, guts, and athletic ability to make it in the NFL as a full time starter. However, with Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Newton, and Devlin likely all in the 1st-2nd round area in this draft (assuming the juniors declare) there won't be much room for him.

After Luck, Cousins will be battling with Foles, Pryor, Aaron Corp (former USC backup and Richmond transfer) and Matt Barkely (USC Junior) for the number two spot, and that's a battle that I think Cousins very well could win next year.