Underclassmen Tracker: December 12th
Tony PaulineDraft Analyst Writer
This is the first of our annual series of articles tracking underclassmen entering the NFL Draft. We’ll start out west during our initial effort, as we try to bring you the news before it becomes news.
Expectations have almost a handful of underclassmen departing the Washington Huskies program for the NFL.
Cornerback Sidney Jones and receiver John Ross have both been interviewing agents and will enter the draft. Both grade as first-round choices, and those I’ve spoken with feel Ross could be a top-18 selection. The game-breaking skills of Ross have been compared to Ted Ginn Jr. I’ll have more on Jones and the cornerback class tomorrow.
The belief is two more Huskies defenders, safety Budda Baker and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, will also enter the draft.
Linebacker Azeem Victor was set to enter the draft, but I’m told he’s rethinking his options after the leg injury he suffered against USC on November 13. Some I’ve spoken with feel Victor must return to school.
As of now, people close to the situation believe defensive tackle Vita Vea will return to Washington for another season.
As I previously tweeted, Oregon running back Royce Freeman met with new Ducks head coach Willie Taggart last week and was given the hard sell on why he should return for his senior season. Sources close to the situation tell me they feel Freeman will ultimately enter the draft.
Our friends at Rotoworld reported USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was close to finalizing an agent and will enter the draft. Though I have no intimate knowledge of whether cornerback Adoree' Jackson is close to picking an agent, everyone on the West Coast I’ve spoken with informs me he’s entering the draft.
Several weeks ago, I listed Utah left tackle Garett Bolles as a week nine riser, noting he was one of the best kept secrets in the scouting community. Several area scouts tell me they grade Bolles as either the third or fourth offensive tackle prospect in the nation, and some feel he’ll be a top-20 pick if he enters the draft. I continue to hear that Bolles will wait until he receives his grade from the advisory committee before making a final decision.
Bolles presently ranks as the fourth offensive tackle on our board. Married and slightly overaged, the belief is Bolles will inevitably enter the draft, and he will be one of the better human interest stories leading up to April. Bolles was a troubled youth on the path to nowhere before turning his life around, and he now projects as a first-round pick.
Bolles may not be the only Ute exiting for the NFL, as safety Marcus Williams has been interviewing agents. The San Francisco Bowl will likely be his final college contest as the belief is Williams will enter the draft. Most people I’ve spoken with grade Williams as a second-day choice.
All signs point to Solomon Thomas of Stanford entering the draft, and the defensive end projects as a top-42 choice. I’m told he’s wavering slightly as he wants to complete his college degree, but Thomas has told teammates and former teammates he’ll likely enter the draft and follow the lead of his very good friend Christian McCaffrey.
Wisconsin is putting on the full-court press to keep tackle Ryan Ramczyk in Madison. I’m told the junior is going through the process and looking at his options but is a ways from making his final decision.
As I posted on twitter Friday, multiple sources tell me Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols will enter the draft. I presently grade McNichols as a third-round prospect, but pre-draft workouts, especially the 40, are critical for the junior.
In a bit of a surprise, I’m told Marshall receiver Michael Clark is looking at his next-level options. Clark took the field for Marshall this season after transferring from St Francis (Pa.). He finished the year with 37 receptions for 632 yards (17.1 yard average) and five scores.