Deshaun Watson among 103 to give up eligibility to enter NFL draft

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2017, file photo, Clemson's Deshaun Watson celebrates a last second touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, in Tampa, Fla. The NFL on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, released a list of 95 underclassmen who have been granted early entry to the draft, along with the names of eight other players, including Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who are draft-eligible by completing their college degrees. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

NEW YORK — For the second straight year, more than 100 players are giving up college eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

The league on Friday released a list of 95 underclassmen who have been granted early entry to draft, along with the names of eight other players, including Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who are draft-eligible by completing their college degrees.

Last year 96 underclassmen declared for the draft and 11 others became eligible by finishing their degrees. Of those 96 underclassmen, 66 were drafted (69 percent). In 2015, 71 percent of 74 underclassmen were drafted.

The record for underclassmen declaring for the draft is 98 in 2014.

Gil Brandt, former vice president of personnel for the Dallas Cowboys who is an analyst for the NFL Network, said more young players, with guidance from agents, are rushing to the league to position themselves better for a second contract.

Draft picks receive four-year contracts and the value of those contracts is basically determined by where a player is drafted since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. The agreement curtailed rookie salaries.

”What’s taken place is that agents, they want to get guys as soon as they can because if you can get an underclassmen, when his contract comes up he’s one year younger,” Brandt said.

”The story is, in that 95, there’s probably 25 or 30 that really should have come out. The others they probably would have been doing a lot better by staying a year in school.”

This year’s draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Browns have the first pick. Texas A&M junior defensive end Myles Garrett could be the first player picked overall.

Ohio State has six players among this year’s 103 early entrants, including All-Americans Curtis Samuel and Malik Hooker.

Watson was one of four players from the national champion Tigers to enter the draft early after graduating, joining receivers Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and running back Wayne Gallman.

Among the other notable underclassmen entering the draft are star running backs Leonard Fournette of LSU, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Junior quarterbacks DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Trubisky of North Carolina are expected to challenge Watson to be the first quarterback drafted.

Miami’s Brad Kaaya, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans are the other quarterbacks entering the draft early.

Brandt said quarterbacks who are short on college playing experience have often had difficult times transitioning to the NFL. He cited Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was at Mississippi State for four years and became as a starter as a sophomore, as a player who benefited from a long college career.

Watson and Kaaya started since they were freshman, and Mahomes also saw extensive playing time as a freshman before two seasons as a starter. Kizer started for his final two seasons at Notre Dame. Trubisky’s only season as a starter at North Carolina was last year. Evans was a junior college transfer who played only one season at Virginia Tech.

”History tells us that the quarterbacks what have 30 (college) starts do much better than the guys who have 12 or 13 starts,” Brandt said.

Here’s the full list of 103, per NFL.com:

Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

Budda Baker, S, Washington

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State

KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

Devin Childress, WR, North Park

Michael Clark, WR, Marshall

Gareon Conley, DB, Ohio State

James Conner, RB, Pitt

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU

Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech

Jeremy Faulk, DT, Garden City CC

Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame

Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Davon Godchaux, DL, LSU

Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State

Isaiah Golden, DT, McNeese State

Jermaine Grace, LB, Miami

Derrick Griffin, WR, Texas Southern

Chad Hansen, WR, Cal

Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech

Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming

Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Titus Howard, DB, Slippery Rock

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP

Josh Jones, S, N.C. State

Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Tim Kimbrough, LB, Georgia

DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Jerome Lane, WR, Akron

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State

Keevan Lucas, WR, Tulsa

Marlon Mack, RB, USF

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee

Damien Mama, OL, USC

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia

Deon-Tay McManus, WR, Marshall

Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami

Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State

David Njoku, TE, Miami

Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M

Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana

Aaron Peak, DB, Butler County CC

Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

Elijah Qualls, DL, Washington

Devine Redding, RB, Indiana

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

John Ross, WR, Washington

Travis Rudolph, WR, FSU

Curtis Samuel, H-back, Ohio State

Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson

Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M

Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland

David Sharpe, OL, Florida

Garrett Sickels, DE, Penn State

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State

Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Darius Victor, RB, Towson

Khari Waithe-Alexander, DE, Southern Illinois

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Charles Walker, DL, Oklahoma

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin

Marcus Williams, S, Utah

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Stanley “Boom” Williams, RB, Kentucky

Howard Wilson, CB, Houston

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Joe Yearby, RB, Miami

Ishmael Zamora, WR, Baylor