Number of early NFL draft entrants hits nine-year low at 73

Jan 20, 2022, 6:56 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 8:58 am
Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean is greeted by a large crowd of fans as he and his teammates return t...

Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean is greeted by a large crowd of fans as he and his teammates return to the Georgia campus, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Athens, Ga., after defeating Alabama in the College Football Championship NCAA college football game. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The NFL announced Friday that 73 underclassmen have been granted special eligibility for the draft, the fewest in the last nine years.

All-American linebacker Nakobe Dean was one of four players from national champion Georgia on the list, along with receiver George Pickens, safety Lewis Cine and defensive lineman Travon Walker.

Mississippi’s Matt Corral is one of only two quarterbacks on the list, and a contender to be one of the first quarterbacks selected in the draft scheduled for April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Alabama, which lost to Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game, also had four underclassmen granted special eligibility for the draft, including All-America receiver Jameson Williams, who tore a ligament in his left knee in the championship game.

Fellow Crimson Tide receiver John Metchie, who injured his knee in the Southeastern Conference championship game, has also declared for the draft, along with Alabama tackle Evan Neal and linebacker Christian Harris.

Neal is expected to be one of the first offensive lineman drafted and a potential top-10 selection.

The number of players granted special eligibility was down from 98 in 2021 and 99 in 2020. A record 106 juniors entered the draft without completing degrees in 2018.

Before this year, the only time since 2014 the number of underclassmen entering the NFL draft with special eligibility fell below 95 was 2015 when the number was 74.

Another 27 players, including quarterbacks Sam Howell of North Carolina and Carson Strong of Nevada and Oregon All-America defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, are entering this season’s draft with eligibility remaining after finishing their degrees and notifying the NFL.

Thibodeaux was expected to be in contention to be the first overall selection in this year’s draft, though injuries limited him to 11 games.

The total number of players entering the draft early (100) is down from 128 last season.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Team World's Jack Sock, left, and Felix Auger-Aliassime react during a match against Team Europe's ...
Associated Press

Auger-Aliassime, Sock cut Team World’s deficit at Laver Cup

LONDON (AP) — Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock came back to beat Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the last doubles match of the Laver Cup on Sunday, cutting Team World’s deficit against Team Europe to 8-7. Murray, who owns three Grand Slam titles, was treated by a trainer after cutting his […]
1 day ago
Canada's Nirra Fields, right, runs past Japan's Saori Miyazaki during their game at the women's Bas...
Associated Press

Bec Allen gets hurt as Australia beat Serbia 69-54

SYDNEY (AP) — Bec Allen was instrumental in Australia’s 69-54 win over Serbia scoring 16 points on Sunday in the World Cup. But her status for the rest of the tournament is in question after getting hurt in the fourth quarter. Allen was diving for a loose ball in front of the Australia bench when […]
1 day ago
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept...
Associated Press

Kipchoge clocks 2:01:09 for world record in Berlin Marathon

BERLIN (AP) — He’s done it again. Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge bettered his own world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. The Kenyan star clocked 2 hours, 1 minute, 9 seconds to shave 30 seconds off his previous best mark of 2:01:39 set on the same course in 2018. “My legs and my […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Eliud Kipchoge clocks 2:01:09 for new world record in Berlin Marathon

BERLIN (AP) — Eliud Kipchoge clocks 2:01:09 for new world record in Berlin Marathon. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
1 day ago
Boxer Floyd Mayweather of the U.S. throws a punch against mixed martial artist Mikuru Asakura of Ja...
Associated Press

Mayweather Jr. easily wins by knockout in Japan exhibition

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. easily knocked out his opponent in the second round of an exhibition match in Japan Sunday, said he had fun and promised to be back next year. “I’d like to thank the whole country of Japan,” the 45-year-old boxing legend, who won all 50 of his professional fights, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Cordeiro, Robinson lead San Jose St. past W. Michigan 34-6

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Chevan Cordeiro passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns, Kairee Robinson had 13 carries for 71 yards and two TDs to help San Jose State beat Western Michigan 34-6 Saturday night. Cordeiro finished 17-of-28 passing with no interceptions and added eight carries for 30 yards. Justin Lockhart had 116 yards […]
1 day ago
Number of early NFL draft entrants hits nine-year low at 73