Early Entry Replacements
Next Man Up on O for 2014
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Past Early Entry Replacements
- 2014 Early-Entries
- Good or Bad Move - Offense
- 2014 Early-Entries
- Good or Bad Move - Defense
- 2014 NFL Underclassmen Replacements - Defense
While juniors and third-year sophomores forego their final years of college eligibility for all kinds of different reasons, the goal for each is a shared one—fulfilling the life-long dream of making an NFL roster, and cashing the beefy paychecks that come with the new gig.
Each January, buckets of athletes leave amateur eligibility on the table, declaring as early entries into that year's draft. This year, the number of dissidents reached a record level. While somber announcements for the campuses they leave behind, the news isn't so disturbing for those heir apparents eagerly hoping to climb up the depth chart. The reality is that for every player who leaves school with unused eligibility, there are at least two or three holdovers staring at the opening with opportunistic and wide eyes. For the bean-counter in you, it's a perpetual system of debits and credits, and a natural cycle of attrition that'll remain as long as the NFL continues to pay for play.
From Florida State to Boise State, applications are already being taken for a mess of new jobs that have opened up over the past month or so. The labor market may be soft elsewhere, but on select campuses across the country, it's just beginning to percolate with possibilities.
WR Davante Adams, Fresno State
Opens the door for… Justin Johnson. Adams accomplished about all he could in the Valley over the last two years. Johnson, a sophomore who caught eight balls, will attempt to pick up some of the slack for a Bulldog passing game that'll be undergoing an extreme makeover this offseason.
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Opens the door for… Bradley Marquez. Amaro is NFL-ready, but the Red Raiders aren't quite ready to part with their well-sized, sure-handed target. Tech will ditch a traditional tight end for a few more jackrabbits, such as Marquez, who'll get a shot to bloom into a statistical giant in this offense.
RB George Atkinson III, Notre Dame
Opens the door for… Tarean Folston. Carries will now be a little easier to come by for Folston, the Cocoa, Fla. rookie who showed flashes of excellence in 2013. After playing sparingly in the first half of the season, his production gradually increased. Folston ended up with 470 yards and three scores on 88 carries.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Opens the door for… John Diarse.
Diarse played quarterback in high school and redshirted last year, but the staff likes his potential to emerge into a capable target in the passing game. At a minimum, the 6-1, 207-pounder has the frame needed to take the pounding and compete every week in the SEC.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Opens the door for… Christian Green. Might this provide the impetus for Green to finally approach his once-enormous potential? The former five-star gem showed hints of being a playmaker as a redshirt freshman in 2011, but he's been quiet ever since. It'll be mutually beneficial if Green can help pick up some of the slack in 2014.
RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
Opens the door for…Donnell Alexander. Bibbs' decision is a gift for Alexander, who has the talent to make the most of the opportunity. The sophomore will be the last remaining holdover of a once deep backfield, with the potential to fly past last season's 71 carries for 428 yards and two touchdowns.
RB Brendan Bigelow, Cal
Opens the door for… Khalfani Muhammad. Muhammad's vision of becoming the feature back in Berkeley just a little clearer with the unexpected exit of Bigelow. Muhammad rushed for a team-high 445 yards on 74 carries as a rookie, while scoring five total touchdowns.
RB Alfred Blue, LSU
Opens the door for… Leonard Fournette. The nation's top recruit was going to play in his first year no matter the surroundings. The early exits of Blue and Jeremy Hill just means he's inching up the depth chart before even arriving in Baton Rouge. Fournette is a 6-1, 225-pounder, with uncommon agility and footwork for such a big runner.
C Russell Bodine, North Carolina
Opens the door for… Lucas Crowley. It's a good thing that the staff used Crowley at times throughout his first season, because he'll be expected to be the starter next year. He played very well late in the season, now needing to add some muscle in order to kick start his development up front.
QB Blake Bortles, UCF
Opens the door for… Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo. Bortles' backups a year ago were a couple of two-star recruits, Holman and DiNovo, from the 2013 recruiting class. Holman has a slight edge heading into spring drills after appearing in three games and throwing the first touchdown pass of his career.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Opens the door for…Will Gardner. Gardner will begin 2014 as the heavy favorite to become Bridgewater's heir apparent as the Cards begin life in the ACC. The 6-5, 200-pound redshirt freshman was last year's backup, appearing in six games while soaking up as much knowledge as possible from Bridgewater.
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Opens the door for… Mike Williams. Bryant enjoyed a breakout junior year that he hopes to parlay into NFL riches. The Tigers will be green on the outside in 2014, with rookies like Williams aiming to pick up the slack. He actually started three games last year, pulling down 20 receptions for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
RBKa'Deem Carey, Arizona
Opens the door for… Pierre Cormier. The Wildcat backfield is going to be wide-open at both quarterback and running back, especially since the top two backs have left and Jared Baker is dealing with a torn ACL. Cormier is a four-star recruit who redshirted in his debut.
WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
Opens the door for…Leonte Carroo. As Coleman heads to the NFL, his old teammates will be preparing for life in the Big Ten. Carroo can become a household name in his new digs, provided he stays healthy. He looked at times like the second-coming of Mohamed Sanu, turning 28 grabs into 478 yards and nine scores.
WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Opens the door for… Victor Bolden. QB Sean Mannion will need to find a new favorite target at "Z", or flanker, now that the Biletnikoff Award winner has departed. Last year's understudy at the position was Bolden, the kind of dynamic, undersized playmaker who's had a knack for excelling in Corvallis.
TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Opens the door for…Jack Tabb. Tabb isn't Ebron, but he is a versatile all-around athlete, with the experience and savvy of a fourth-year player. The reserve, who's also played some linebacker, begins his final season in Chapel Hill with 21 career receptions and a couple of touchdown catches.
WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Opens the door for… Pharoh Cooper. Ellington was a do-it-all athlete in Columbia. Cooper is bucking to be a similar threat in the slot for the Gamecocks. The staff thought enough of Cooper to use him in Wildcat packages, with the true freshman producing 202 yards on the ground, a touchdown catch and a touchdown pass.
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Opens the door for… Ricky Seals-Jones. The Aggies are once again in the market for a big and physical target capable of stretching defenses. Seals-Jones certainly fits the profile. The 6-5, 225-pound blue-chipper from the 2013 class was set to contribute when a Week 1 knee injury forced a medical redshirt year.
OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford
Opens the door for… Kyle Murphy. Murphy is going to get his first really good opportunity to approach the enormous expectations that accompanied his signing in 2012. The five-star pass protector has been in the rotation the past two seasons, even starting a pair of games as a true freshman.
WR Austin Franklin, New Mexico State
Opens the door for… Jerrel Brown. Now that Franklin is gone, Brown appears poised to elevate his game and become the Aggies' go-to receiver. The junior showed a propensity for stretching the defense in 2013, scoring twice and averaging almost 15 yards on his 33 receptions.
RB Devonta Freeman, Florida State
Opens the door for…Karlos Williams. The experiment of moving Williams from the defensive to the offensive backfield was a rousing success. Now, it looks downright necessary. The ‘Noles have become thin at running back, encouraging news for Williams, who ripped off 730 yards and 11 scores on only 91 carries in 2013.
TE Xavier Grimble, USC
Opens the door for… Randall Telfer. Grimble and Telfer have been splitting reps for the past three seasons, but the collaboration at tight end stops in 2014. Telfer gets a one-year audition as a solo act in the Trojan passing game, and an opportunity to build on his 44 career receptions for 451 yards and 10 touchdowns.
RB Jeremy Hill, LSU
Opens the door for… Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee. Now that Hill and Alfred Blue have elected to leave school early, Hilliard and Magee become the veterans of the Tiger backfield. The seniors will be getting an enormous opportunity to showcase their skills after averaging no more than 5-10 touches a game.
RB Storm Johnson, UCF
Opens the door for… William Stanback. The Knights can withstand the loss of Johnson because of the development of Stanback, a physical downhill runner. As a rookie reserve, he earned Second Team All-AAC honors by rushing for 443 yards, catching 15 passes, scoring seven times and contributing on special teams.
RB Henry Josey, Missouri
Opens the door for… Russell Hansbrough. Hansbrough was groomed in 2013 to be Josey's successor, which will happen a year earlier than expected. As a sophomore, Hansbrough showed tremendous quickness and cutting ability, turning 114 carries into 685 yards and four touchdowns. Mizzou also returns Marcus Murphy, so the drop-off in the running game will be undetectable.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Opens the door for… Leon Brown. Brown gets first crack at the tackle opening that he backed up a season ago. The junior college transfer showed progress in his first season with the Tide, and will need to continue maturing in order to fend off the challenge of incoming blue-chip recruit Cam Robinson.
WR Jarvis Landry, LSU
Opens the door for… Travin Dural. The Tiger passing game will be undergoing an extreme makeover in 2014. A new quarterback and new receivers must be developed in the spring and the summer. Dural earned reps as a redshirt freshman in 2013, tying for fourth on the team with seven grabs for 145 yards and two scores.
WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
Opens the door for… Shane Wynn. The Hoosiers will enter 2014 without three of last year's top four receivers. Wynn is the lone returner among the regulars, finally bucking for a starring role after quietly complementing Latimer with 46 receptions for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns out of slot.
WR Marqise Lee, USC
Opens the door for… Darreus Rogers. Nelson Agholor assumes the role of go-to receiver at USC, but look for Rogers to be the biggest beneficiary of Lee's exodus. The four-star recruit from 2012 overcame injuries during the regular season to finish fourth on the team with 22 grabs for 257 yards.
QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Opens the door for… Kenny Hill. There'll be no tougher job in college football in 2014 than replacing Manziel, but the Aggies feel Hill is up to the challenge. Heavily recruited out of powerhouse Southlake Carroll (Tex.) High School, the rookie has all of the physical tools that Texas A&M seeks in its man behind center.
C Marcus Martin, USC
Opens the door for… Cyrus Hobbi. The Trojans are losing their best lineman, the quarterback of the unit. Plus, Martin's backup, Abe Markowitz, was a senior in 2013, leaving Hobbi as the program's only true center left on the roster. Versatile Max Tuerk could get a long look at the pivot, if needed.
RB Tre Mason, Auburn
Opens the door for… Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. The Tigers are going to run the ball effectively, with or without Mason. Artis-Payne and Grant were outstanding complements off the bench, rushing for 610 yards and 647 yards, respectively. Their battle for the starting job will be one of the can't-miss competitions of the offseason.
WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Opens the door for… Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell's path to stardom just went into hyperdrive. Sure, he was going to catch a lot of balls in 2014 no matter what, but now he's Bo Wallace's primary target in the passing game, which will mean even gaudier numbers and more exposure across the country.
RB Adam Muema, San Diego State
Opens the door for… Donnel Pumphrey. Just how big of a load can the undersized Pumphrey handle? The Aztecs are about to find out. He might never be a workhorse, which will open up snaps for Dwayne Garrett, but he did impress with 752 yards and eight scores on 125 carries as a rookie.
TE Jake Murphy, Utah
Opens the door for… Westlee Tonga. Murphy will be the latest family member to play sports professionally, following in the footsteps of father Dale, a slugger with the Atlanta Braves. Tonga, who originally signed with the Utes in 2007, has received a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 21.
TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Opens the door for… Ben Koyack. Niklas' surprise decision means that Koyack gets the tight end position all to himself in 2014. Koyack caught just one pass over the first seven games, but gave a glimpse of his considerable potential by making nine grabs, three for touchdowns, in the final six weeks of the season.
RB Darrin Reaves, UAB
Opens the door for… Jordan Howard. Reaves leaves Birmingham as the No. 3 all-time leading rusher in school history. He also leaves the Blazer ground game in good hands. Howard was one of the program's 2013 surprises, barreling for 881 yards and two scores on 145 touches as a rookie.
OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
Opens the door for… Dontavius Blair. Richardson's decision means the Vols will have two new starting tackles in 2014. Blair is a recent, four-star signee out of Garden City (Kan.) Community College, who'll get every opportunity to fill the gaping void left by either Richardson or right tackle Ja'Wuan James.
WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
Opens the door for… Tyler McCulloch. Richardson's departure creates a void that could be filled by McCulloch, the 6-5, 210-pound veteran. About to enter his final season with the program, McCulloch will have a chance to blow past last year's 14 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
Opens the door for… the tight ends. The upcoming season will be one of change for QB Christian Hackenberg, who'll have a new coach and a new favorite target. Until a quality wide receiver emerges, the sophomore will leverage Penn State's trio of talented tight ends, Kyle Carter, Jesse James and Adam Breneman.
OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Opens the door for… Shon Coleman. The tall task of sliding in for Robinson, one of the country's best left tackles, might now belong to Coleman. The former can't-miss prospect, who has beaten leukemia to get to this point of his career, appeared in seven games off the bench during last year's SEC title season.
TE Richard Rodgers, Cal
Opens the door for… Stephen Anderson. Anderson shared time with Rodgers at "Y" receiver this season, starting six games and catching 14 balls for 125 yards. At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he's built more like a sturdy wide receiver, with the toughness to make catches over the middle of the field.
RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
Opens the door for… Dwayne Washington. Chris Petersen's first offense in Seattle will have a very different look in 2014. The entire backfield will be revamped now that Sankey is off to the NFL, leaving behind the talented young Washington and a pair of cagey veterans, Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper.
RB Lache Seastrunk, LSU
Opens the door for… Shock Linwood. A Seastrunk injury last fall afforded Linwood a chance to provide a glimpse of the future. And the future remains bright in Waco. Linwood ran for 881 yards and eight scores on 128 carries, advertising big-play ability when he got his chance in early November.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Opens the door for… Joshua Perkins. The Huskies have had depth at tight end recently, which ought to help offset the loss of Seferian-Jenkins, even if a committee is required. The H-back-sized Perkins only caught five passes as a sophomore, but three of them did wind up as touchdowns.
QB Brett Smith, Wyoming
Opens the door for… Jason Thompson. Head coach Craig Bohl's first season in Laramie will not be navigated with a veteran under center. Instead, the timetable gets pushed up a year for Thompson, the frontrunner and the kind of athlete who'll entice the staff to broaden the playbook.
RB Jerome Smith, Syracuse
Opens the door for… George Morris II. The freshmen, Morris and Devante McFarlane, had a tough time getting touches in 2013, but the dynamic changes now that Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley are gone. Morris impressed last spring before rushing for 334 yards and a touchdown on 79 carries coming off the bench.
WR Willie Snead, Ball State
Opens the door for… Jordan Williams. Williams is the only productive receiver from 2013 who'll back in 2014. He caught 72 balls for 1,050 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite starting only eight games. Williams figures to become the primary target of whichever quarterback earns the right to replace Keith Wenning.
WR Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Opens the door for… Jhajuan Seales. The Cowboys will be rebuilding on the outside now that three of last year's top four receivers are gone. Seales is the best of the holdovers, not only starting as a redshirt freshman, but also catching 39 balls for 571 yards and three touchdowns.
OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
Opens the door for… Scott Quessenberry. Had Su'a-Filo returned for his senior season, Quessenberry would have probably headed back to the bench. Now, he has a legitimate shot to regain the starting spot that he held throughout the second half of the season and in the Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech.
RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Opens the door for… Thomas Tyner. Thomas served so many purposes for the Ducks, including on special teams. The running game, though, will be in the capable hands of Byron Marshall and Tyner, who was as good as advertised in his first year. The blue-chipper from the 2013 class debuted with 711 yards and nine touchdowns on 115 carries.
OG Trai Turner, LSU
Opens the door for… Fehoko Fanaika. Fanaika is one of the biggest linemen in the SEC, a 6-6, 350-pounder who served as a backup on the interior a year ago. If he can maintain his weight and fine-tune his blocking, the former JUCO transfer ought to nab a starting gig as early as the spring.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Opens the door for…T.J. Green. Green gets an opportunity very early in his career to become an impact player in the passing game. He has terrific size, with the ability to go up and pluck balls out of the air. Green caught a couple of balls, eventually rising up to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Watkins.
RB James Wilder, Florida State
Opens the door for… Ryan Green. Green remains the youngest of the Seminole backs, but the logjam for carries certainly won't be what it was in 2013. The four-star recruit from St. Petersburg, Fla. got a taste of action, earning 33 carries for 163 yards and a touchdown. Green will play a much bigger role in the rotation.
OG David Yankey, Stanford
Opens the door for… Joshua Garnett. Garnett was being groomed to replace Yankey all along, even starting in his place for the Washington State game. The sophomore lettered in his first two seasons on the Farm, providing hints of the player who was a five-star mega-recruit just a couple of years ago.
- 2014 NFL Underclassmen Replacements - Defense