Originally written January 15, 2013 on Crystal Ball Run:
Yet again, a record number of early entrants have declared for this year's NFL draft. Based on who they lost and who they have behind them, here are the 10 programs that suffered the biggest losses from early declarations: 1. LSU Declaring: RB Spencer Ware, RB Michael Ford, OL Chris Faulk, DE Sam Montgomery, DE Barkevious Mingo, DT Bennie Logan, LB Kevin Minter, CB Tharold Simon, CB Tyrann Mathieu, S Eric Reed, P Brad Wing Sheesh, will the last one out of Baton Rouge please turn out the lights? The Tigers have been pillaged this year like no other college squad in recent memory. They even lost a punter. On the other hand, have you seen the dudes on LSU’s roster waiting to get their shot? Rough life, Les. 2. Texas A&M Declaring: OL Luke Joeckel, DE/LB Damontre Moore For A&M, it’s the quality, not the quantity. Johnny Manziel got the Heisman hype, but coach Kevin Sumlin undoubtedly understands what he’s losing in Joeckel and Moore. Both will hear their names called pretty quickly on the first night of the draft. (Gil Brandt and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com currently have Joeckel being picked first overall, with Moore going in the top 10.) The Aggies have a ton of talent on hand to replace them, but these two departures will leave a mark. 3. Michigan State Declaring: RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Dion Sims, DE William Gholston These aren’t exactly marquee names that are departing East Lansing, but the losses will definitely tax an MSU roster that isn’t exactly loaded with Parade All-Americans. In particular, Bell’s departure hurts, as the bruising tailback essentially was Sparty’s offense this season. Michigan St. will miss Gholston’s nastiness on the defensive line, of course. 4. Oklahoma Declaring: S Tony Jefferson, WR Kenny Stills, LB Tom Wort If you’re scoring at home, those would be the Sooners’ leading tackler and receiver, as well as a three-year starter at linebacker. Although many around the program expected Jefferson and Stills to declare, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing two key pieces of the program from the last three seasons. Jefferson's departure is especially tough - he was the best player on a D that struggled mightily at times in 2012. It could have been worse for Bob Stoops. Standout cover man Aaron Colvin waited until the 11th hour to decide that he would stay in Norman for his senior season. Stud fullback Trey Millard thought hard about heading out, too. 5. Florida Declaring: DT Shariff Floyd, LB Jelani Jenkins, S Matt Elam The Gators boasted arguably the best D in the country. That tends to happen when you’ve got talents like these three on that side of the ball. Elam established himself as one of the best defenders in the country this year and will be especially difficult for Will Muschamp to replace. Coach Boom has recruited awfully well, though, so there will likely be a host of young whippersnappers and hungry veterans competing to fill the vacated spots. 6. Georgia Declaring: DT Kwame Geathers, LB Alec Ogletree, LB Jarvis Jones The Bulldogs scored big with the return of trigger man Aaron Murray, who could make a run at being the first quarterback selected next year. Combine the early entrants with Georgia’s graduates, however, and Mark Richt’s defense has been decimated. 7. Stanford Declaring: TE Levine Toilolo, TE Zach Ertz, CB Terrence Brown When was the last time a team had two tight ends leave early? Maybe even more amazing: The Cardinal will have one of the top teams in the country next season even with these losses. David Shaw has that program rolling. 8. Florida State Declaring: CB Xavier Rhodes, DE Bjoern Werner, OL Menelik Watson The Seminoles are sending two likely first-rounders to the show in Rhodes and the big German. Jimbo Fisher has recruited at Bobby Bowden-like levels since taking over, which should help mitigate some of the damage. 9. Alabama Declaring: RB Eddie Lacy, OL D.J. Fluker, CB Dee Milliner All in all, you’d expect it to be worse for a team that just claimed its second consecutive national championship. ‘Bama won’t miss a beat. 10. Tennessee Losses: QB Tyler Bray, WR Justin Hunter, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, DT Darrington Sentimore This one comes with a caveat: It feels a little odd to say these early defections hurt the Volunteers, seeing as this team badly underachieved this season. Still, they mean coach Butch Jones will be looking for a new signal caller and some new weapons in the passing game as he begins the rebuilding process in Knoxville. Maybe a fresh start will work out best for all involved.
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