Underclassmen Tracker: December 29

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

As bowl games are finishing up, more and more underclassmen will announce their future intentions. Here’s the latest on what we’ve heard.

The chatter is getting louder and louder that Olasunkanmi Adeniyi of Toledo will enter the draft, something we first mentioned December 4.

Adeniyi is heavily into the agent process and seemingly close to selecting representation. I would expect an announcement from the junior relatively soon.

Another edge rusher, Jaylon Ferguson of Louisiana Tech, is also exploring the possibility of entering the draft. The junior was graded by several scouts entering the season after finishing his sophomore campaign with 49 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. His production dropped off in 2017 as Ferguson finished the year with 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

While a few are convinced he will enter the draft, I’m told Ferguson has yet to make a final decision.

To expand on a tweet from yesterday, several insiders tell me Hercules Mata'afa of Washington State will enter the draft. The junior, who posted 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, has been exploring his options and is close to signing with an agent.

Josh Jackson of Iowa is still exploring his options, but many I’ve spoken with believe he will ultimately enter the draft.

It’s unusual for Iowa to lose juniors to the draft, but people tell me the lessons of Desmond King are heavily weighing on Jackson’s decision. If you remember, King left his junior season as a potential first-round prospect and entered his senior campaign graded as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. His poor senior season resulted in King dropping to the fifth round.

Most I’ve spoken with believe if Jackson enters the draft, he will land in the late part of Round 1.

Multiple sources tell me North Carolina linebacker Andre Smith is likely to enter the draft.

Smith, who we graded as a mid-round pick before the season began, was lost for the year after Week 2 with a knee injury. As a sophomore in 2016 he started 12 games and finished with 113 tackles.