NEW YORK (AP) — A record 73 underclassmen, including six first-team All-Americans, were approved for the NFL draft on Saturday.
That number was eight more than last year.
The six All-Americans were safety Matt Elam of Florida, tight end Zach Ertz of Stanford, tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M, defensive end Bjoern Werner of Florida State, linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia and cornerback Dee Milliner of national champion Alabama.
Only Elam is not projected as a high first-round pick, but all six easily could go in the opening round on April 25.
Several scouts and NFL personnel directors believe Joeckel, Werner, Jones and Milliner could go in the top 10.
NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, the former general manager of the Cowboys, has Joeckel and Werner as his top two prospects.
Also approved was former LSU cornerback-kick returner Tyrann Mathieu, a 2011 All-American. Mathieu, a one-time Heisman Trophy finalist, was dismissed from the team in August after reportedly failing a drug test.
Louisiana State lost a whopping 11 players, including Mathieu. Next were Florida State, Tennessee and Florida, each with four. Michigan State, Stanford, Georgia and Oklahoma each lost three players.
Alabama saw Milliner and running back Eddie Lacy enter the draft.
In all, 38 schools lost players early.
Also leaving school and projected to go high in the draft: LSU DEs Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery; Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore; Georgia LB Alec Ogletree; California WR Keenan Allen; Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes; Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins; and LSU linebacker Kevin Minter.
Other All-Americans entering early were second-teamers Moore, Hankins, Minter, WR Stedman Bailey of West Virginia, safeties Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma and Eric Reid of LSU. Third-teamers were Montgomery, RBs Giovani Bernard of North Carolina and Stefphon Jefferson of Nevada, WR DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson, and DT Sharif Floyd of Florida.
Only one quarterback, Tyler Bray of Tennessee, applied early for the NFL.
In the last 10 years, the number of early entrants has risen from 43 to 73.
A player must have been eligible to play in college for three years before he can enter the draft. He must petition the NFL in writing and renounce his college eligibility.
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