NFL: 53 non-seniors apply for draft
NEW YORK — All-American defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida were are a record-tying 53 non-seniors eligible for this year's NFL draft.
The list was released by the league Tuesday. It also includes All-American defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech, tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida, linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.
Five Florida underclassmen are entered, the most of any college.
Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Southern California running back Joe McKnight and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman also declared early for April's draft.
The 53 players match the previous high in 2008 but is a lower number than many projections. With the NFL and the players union in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and the potential for a rookie wage scale being implemented, more juniors were expected to declare for this year's draft.
But it didn't really happen, even though the total is as high as it's ever been. Last year, 46 players declared early.
NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, often advises the non-seniors that staying in school suits them best.
"I tell a lot of them that it's short-term gain for long-term loss if you come out early," Brandt said. "I look at so many of these guys who stay and then wind up like Brian Cushing and Michael Oher, and look at the great rookie years they had."
Linebacker Cushing played four seasons at Southern Cal, then became Defensive Rookie of the Year with the Houston Texans. Oher, an offensive tackle at Ole Miss, became an instant starter with the Baltimore Ravens after spending the full four seasons in college.
"I had the father of a quarterback call me three times to ask about coming out," Brandt added. "I try to tell them the same thing, especially at that position: 'It's beneficial to get that extra year (in school).
"The agents are all whispering in their ears about labor (unrest) and the rookie wage scale. They've been telling them about a rookie wage scale since 1985. We haven't seen it yet."