Clemson was a big winner around the NFL Draft's Early Entry Deadline.
The NFL's early entry deadline for the 2018 draft officially passed on Monday evening and over 100 players declared for the next level. The deadline produced a few surprises, as Clemson's defensive line remained intact with Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant each deciding to return to campus in 2018. This deadline also produced a couple of quarterbacks likely to go early in the draft. Wyoming's Josh Allen, UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold all passed on collegiate eligibility for the NFL. The official list of players leaving for the NFL will be released in the coming days, and another surprise name or two could pop up on that release. While the official list isn't out yet, it's no secret which players have already announced their intentions for the next level and which teams will be filling the most voids this offseason.
With the early entrants declared, it’s time to take a look at the winners and losers from a college perspective.
The early entry deadline is a key moment in any college football offseason, as this allows coaches to get a better view of which players are returning and how the roster looks headed into Signing Day.
Which teams are the big winners and which programs have big shoes to fill thanks to the 2018 draft deadline? Here are the winners and losers with the draft deadline process:
CFB's NFL Draft Deadline Winners and Losers for 2018
Returning: DE Zach Allen
The Eagles had only one NFL draft announcement, but it was a big one for coach Steve Addazio. Allen recorded 15.5 tackles for a loss and led the Boston College defense with six sacks in 2017. With Harold Landry moving onto the NFL, Allen will lead the way for the Eagles in the trenches next fall.
Returning: DL Clelin Ferrell, DL Austin Bryant, DL Christian Wilkins, LB, Kendall Joseph, CB Mark Fields, OT Mitch Hyatt
Lost: OL Taylor Hearn, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, S Van Smith, WR Deon Cain
The biggest surprise of the draft deadline has to be the return of Ferrell, Bryant and Wilkins in the trenches for coach Dabo Swinney. All three players earned a spot on the 2017 postseason All-America team and are back to anchor one of college football’s top defenses in 2018. Joseph’s return alleviates the loss of Dorian O’Daniel at linebacker. The offensive line loses all three of its interior starters, so getting Hyatt back for 2018 to anchor the edge at left tackle was a huge development for Swinney.
Returning: WR Hakeem Butler and CB Brian Peavy
The Cyclones were one of the most improved teams in the nation in 2017 and should continue their upward trend next fall. Peavy was a second-team All-Big 12 selection after accounting for 88 tackles and two picks in 2017. Butler caught 41 passes for 697 yards and seven scores last year. His return was crucial for a passing game that was already set to lose Allen Lazard.
Returning: TE C.J. Conrad, LB Josh Allen, S Mike Edwards, LB Denzil Ware and LB Jordan Jones
Can the Wildcats take a step forward in the SEC East after back-to-back seven-win seasons? The offense needs to find a new quarterback, but Conrad should be one of the team’s leading receivers in 2018. Additionally, the defense got a big boost with the return of Allen, Ware, Jones and Edwards. These four defenders are instrumental to a unit that seems poised to improve in 2018.
Returning: DE Chase Winovich and RB Karan Higdon
After losing several key seniors to graduation and linebacker Jabrill Peppers early to the NFL, Michigan’s 2017 season was clearly a rebuilding year. However, coach Jim Harbaugh returns most of his roster for 2018 and could add Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson at quarterback. Harbaugh also got good news at the deadline with Winovich (eight sacks) and Higdon opting to return.
Returning: RB LJ Scott
Not only are the Spartans returning their best running back for 2018, the personnel departures at Ohio State and Penn State should give this team a chance to contend for the Big Ten East Division title. Scott has led the team in rushing in each of the last three seasons.
Related: Early Big Ten Predictions for 2018
Returning: DL/LB Montez Sweat and S Jamal Peters
Sweat dominated the line of scrimmage in his first year in Starkville, recording 15.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks over 13 games. In addition to Sweat and Peters returning, Mississippi State caught a break in its division with LSU losing six players to the NFL, and Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk also departing early. The Bulldogs should be in the mix to be a top-20 team this fall.
Returning: QB Drew Lock and DL Terry Beckner
Barry Odom and Missouri were one of the biggest winners from the draft deadline. Lock considered an early departure to the NFL after throwing for 3,964 yards and 44 touchdowns but is back for his senior year. Beckner recorded 11 tackles for a loss in 2017 and should be among the SEC’s top returning defensive linemen for 2018.
Returning: RB Mike Weber, WR Parris Campbell, WR Johnnie Dixon, DL Dre’Mont Jones
Lost: LB Jerome Baker, DE Sam Hubbard, CB Denzel Ward
Similar to Clemson, Ohio State is losing a good chunk of talent, but the damage could have been worse. Weber’s return provides coach Urban Meyer with one of the best running back tandems in 2018, with Campbell and Dixon set to anchor the receiving corps for likely new quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Hubbard is a big loss up front, but Jones and end Nick Bosa should keep the defensive line performing at a high level.
Returning: DL Jalen Jelks
Keeping Jelks in Eugene for his senior year was a huge win for defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. He led the team with 6.5 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss, while also performing as a key cog in a much-improved Oregon defense. In addition to Jelks returning, the Ducks watched as Pac-12 North Division foes Stanford and Washington both lost players early to the next level.
Returning: RB Bryce Love and LB Bobby Okereke
Lost: TE Dalton Schultz, DL Harrison Phillips, CB Quenton Meeks and S Justin Reid
Losing Phillips, Meeks and Reid is a significant setback for Stanford's defense. But the Cardinal will remain in contention for the Pac-12 North Division title with Love back at running back. The junior was dynamic in his first year as the starting running back by recording over 2,000 yards and posting 13 rushes of 50 or more yards.
Returning: DB Chase Hansen
Utah was the only team in the Pac-12 South Division to not lose a player early to the entry deadline for underclassmen. Considering the personnel departures, along with the coaching turnover at Arizona, USC and UCLA, the door is open for coach Kyle Whittingham's team to claim the South Division title in 2018.
Returning: RB Myles Gaskin, OL Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary, DL Greg Gaines, S JoJo McIntosh
Lost: DL Vita Vea
Make no mistake: The Huskies will miss Vea next fall. He was one of the Pac-12’s top defenders in 2017 and anchored the line of scrimmage for coach Chris Petersen’s defense. However, Gaines’ decision to return alleviates some concern in the trenches, and Washington brought back both offensive tackles and his standout running back.
Returning: QB Will Grier, WR David Sills, WR Gary Jennings, OL Yodny Cajuste
West Virginia’s offense should rank among the nation’s best in 2018. Grier threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns before suffering a season-ending hand injury. He should make a run at All-America honors next fall. Sills and Jennings should be All-Big 12 receivers after combining for 157 receptions in 2017.
Related: Early Big 12 Predictions for 2018
Returning: OL David Edwards, OL Beau Benzschawel, OL Michael Dieter, LB T.J. Edwards
Lost: CB Nick Nelson
Expect the Badgers to make another run at the Big Ten title and a spot in the CFB Playoff after four key players announced their decision to return to Madison in 2018. David Edwards, Benzschawel and Dieter will anchor one of the nation’s best offensive lines, and T.J. Edwards was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after recording 81 tackles (11 TFL) in 2017. Nelson’s departure means Wisconsin will be breaking in two new cornerbacks next fall.
Lost: S Ronnie Harrison, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, DT Da’Ron Payne, WR Calvin Ridley, RB Bo Scarbrough
Returning: DL Isaiah Buggs and RB Damien Harris
As usual, the Crimson Tide are losing some significant pieces to the NFL draft. Harrison and Fitzpatrick depart a secondary that finished second nationally in pass efficiency defense, and Payne consistently dominated the line of scrimmage at nose guard. Despite Scarbrough’s departure, Alabama’s backfield is still in good shape with Damien Harris and Najee Harris leading the way in 2018. Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs are a promising trio of targets, but Ridley (63 catches) dominated the looks in the passing game this year.
Lost: LB Christian Sam, OL Sam Jones, DL JoJo Wicker
New coach Herm Edwards lost three of his top players from 2017 to the NFL. Sam led the team with 127 tackles, and Wicker earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors after racking up 13 tackles for a loss in 2017. Jones was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection last year.
Returning: DL Demarcus Christmas and RB Jacques Patrick
Lost: S Derwin James, TE Ryan Izzo, WR Auden Tate, DE Josh Sweat, DL Jalen Wilkerson and CB Tarvarus McFadden
The Seminoles still have plenty of talent for new coach Willie Taggart to build around in 2018, but the early departures to the NFL are significant. Sweat led the team with 5.5 sacks, and James was a postseason All-American by Athlon Sports. McFadden had a standout 2016 season but had an uneven '17 campaign. Florida State doesn’t have a ton of depth in the receiving corps, so losing Izzo and Tate – a combined 59 receptions – isn’t ideal.
Returning: DL Jonathan Ledbetter, S J.R. Reed, WR Terry Godwin and CB Deandre Baker
Lost: DL Trenton Thompson and LB Roquan Smith
Kirby Smart’s defense was already set to lose a couple of key seniors this offseason, but the departures of Thompson and Smith add to the effort to reload in Athens. Smith was arguably the best defender in college football this season, recording 137 tackles (14 for a loss). Thompson – a former five-star prospect – finished his career with 15.5 tackles for a loss for the Bulldogs. The return of Ledbetter, Reed, Godwin and Baker softened the blow, but Smith will be tough to replace.
Lost: OL James Daniels and CB Josh Jackson
Jackson had a prolific junior campaign, as the Texas native earned first-team All-America honors after breaking up 18 passes and recording eight interceptions. Daniels was a versatile lineman who started all over the front five throughout his career. He also finished his time in Iowa City with 25 career starts.
Returning: WR Jaylen Smith
Lost: QB Lamar Jackson, OL Geron Christian and CB Jaire Alexander
After winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016, Jackson was just as prolific for the Cardinals in 2017. He threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for 1,601 yards and 18 scores. Jawon Pass is expected to replace Jackson as the team’s starting quarterback. Christian started all 39 games at left tackle in his career. Alexander missed time due to injury in 2017 but was one of the ACC’s top cover corners.
Returning: OL Garrett Brumfield
Lost: RB Derrius Guice, C Will Clapp, OL Toby Weathersby, LB Arden Key, CB Kevin Toliver, CB Donte Jackson
LSU was once again hit hard by early departures, as six key performers are headed to the next level. Greedy Williams is a promising cornerback in Baton Rouge, but Toliver and Jackson leave big shoes to fill in the secondary. Despite a knee injury that hampered him at times, Guice was one of the SEC’s top rushing backs in 2017 and finished the year with 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. LSU’s offensive line was already set to lose left tackle KJ Malone, so the departure of Weathersby and Clapp means three new starters need to be identified up front this spring.
Returning: CB Michael Jackson and S Jaquan Johnson
Lost: DL Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh, RB Mark Walton
The return of Jackson and Johnson should ensure Miami has one of the top defensive backfields in college football next year. However, Norton and McIntosh will be missed after combining for 19 tackles for a loss and clogging the middle of the line for opposing ground games. The return of Gerald Willis should alleviate some of the concerns on the interior, but this is an area to watch this offseason.
Returning: DL Jerry Tillery, LB Te'von Coney
Lost: OL Quenton Nelson, RB Josh Adams and WR Equanimeous St. Brown
The Fighting Irish have options to replace Adams at running back and St. Brown at receiver. But the loss of Nelson is a significant one for an offensive line that was one of the best in college football in 2017. Nelson was a first-team All-American and a dominant force off the left side.
Returning: RB Rodney Anderson
Lost: OL Orlando Brown, TE Mark Andrews and DL Du’Vonta Lampkin
Not only will the Sooners have to replace Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback Baker Mayfield, but the top scoring offense in the Power 5 ranks lost one of the nation’s top offensive linemen (Brown) and Mackey Award winner at tight end (Andrews).
Lost: RB Saquon Barkley
The Nittany Lions have a talented running back (Miles Sanders) ready to take over in 2018. However, Barkley was a special talent and a player who could score every time he touched the ball.
Lost: WR Quadree Henderson, OL Brian O’Neill and S Jordan Whitehead
The Panthers lost one of the ACC’s top all-purpose threats in Henderson, and O’Neill was a first-team all-conference selection from 2017. Whitehead missed three games but still finished third on the team with 60 tackles. He was one of the top defenders on a defense that gave up 26.6 points a game in 2017.
Lost: WR Courtland Sutton and WR Trey Quinn
Sutton and Quinn were two of the AAC’s top receivers in 2017, as this duo combined for 182 receptions, 2,321 yards and 25 touchdowns. James Proche should see more targets under new coach Sonny Dykes’ offense after catching 40 passes as the No. 3 receiver behind Quinn and Sutton last year.
Lost: RB John Kelly, DB Rashaan Gaulden and DL Kahlil McKenzie
New coach Jeremy Pruitt’s rebuilding effort in Knoxville didn’t get any easier with the departure of Kelly and Gaulden. Kelly was Tennessee’s top weapon on offense, while Gaulden picked up third-team All-SEC honors from Athlon Sports in 2017.
Returning: DL Charles Omenihu
Lost: LB Malik Jefferson, S DeShon Elliott, OL Connor Williams, CB Holton Hill and P Michael Dickson
The Longhorns hope to make a jump in the standings in coach Tom Herman’s second season in Austin. However, Herman and his staff have some significant voids to fill in spring ball in order to challenge Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. Jefferson and Elliott earned first-team All-Big 12 honors, and Dickson claimed the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. Williams was the team’s top blocker, while Hill picked off two passes in nine games in 2017.
Returning: S Donovan Wilson and DL Kingsley Keke
Lost: WR Christian Kirk
New coach Jimbo Fisher's debut in College Station got a little tougher after Kirk declared for the NFL Draft. The Arizona native caught at least 71 passes in each of his three seasons with the Aggies and was one of the nation's top all-purpose performers. Keke recorded 2.5 tackles for a loss in 2017, while Wilson missed the year due to injury.
Lost: DB Mike Hughes, TE Jordan Akins and WR Tre’Quan Smith
New coach Josh Heupel has to replace two of the team’s top receivers, as Smith (59 catches for 1,171 yards) and Akins (32) are off to the next level. In his only season with the Knights, Hughes tied for the team lead in interceptions (four) and averaged 31.8 yards on 20 kickoff returns. He also scored three times on special teams, including a game-winning kickoff return for a touchdown against USF.
Returning: S Adarius Pickett, DB Nate Meadors
Lost: QB Josh Rosen, WR Jordan Lasley, OL Kolton Miller, TE Austin Roberts
Chip Kelly’s first season on the sidelines at UCLA didn’t get any easier with the departure of four players early to the next level. Rosen is the biggest loss, but Miller was an All-Pac-12 selection in the trenches, and Lasley led the team with 69 receptions for 1,264 yards despite missing three games because of injury.
Returning: LB Cameron Smith, LB Porter Gustin, CB Iman Marshall and OL Toa Lobendahn
Lost: QB Sam Darnold, RB Ronald Jones, WR Deontay Burnett, DL Rasheem Green
The losses are significant for coach Clay Helton. Quarterback Sam Darnold could be one of the first players off the board in the 2018 draft, while Jones led the team with 1,550 rushing yards. USC has some promising receivers, but Burnett was the go-to target for Darnold, as he caught 86 passes for 1,114 yards. Green was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection after recording 10 sacks in 2017.
Returning: DT Ricky Walker
Lost: DT Tim Settle, LB Tremaine Edmunds, S Terrell Edmunds
Bud Foster has a busy offseason on tap, as the Hokies lost three players from one of the ACC’s best defenses in 2017. Tremaine Edmunds led the unit with 109 tackles, and Terrell Edmunds recorded 59 stops in 10 games. Settle teamed with Walker to form a standout duo on the interior, as these two players combined for 25 tackles for a loss in 2017. With Settle off to the NFL, Walker is going to see more attention from opposing lines.
Lost: DL Hercules Mata’afa and WR Tavares Martin
Mata’afa was arguably the best defensive player in the Pac-12 last year, as he recorded 22.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks. Martin led the team in receptions (70), receiving yardage (831) and receiving touchdowns (nine).
Lost: QB Josh Allen
When Josh Allen was out for games against Fresno State and San Jose State, Wyoming’s offense scored only 24 points this season. Allen – a likely first-round pick – was clearly missed in those two contests and leaves big shoes to fill in Laramie next fall.
Returning: QB Jarrett Stidham, DL Dontavius Russell
Lost: DL/LB Jeff Holland, CB Carlton Davis, RB Kerryon Johnson, RB Kamryn Pettway
Holland and Davis were key cogs on a defense that limited opponents to just 18.5 points a game last season. Johnson earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors from Athlon Sports after rushing for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns. Finding a new go-to back is a priority for Malzahn after the team didn’t seem comfortable with any of the options in a reserve role in 2017. While those three players will be missed, Stidham has a chance to be among the SEC’s top quarterbacks once again next fall and returns most of his key targets at receiver. His return keeps Auburn from sliding into the losing section from early entries to the draft.
Returning: DL Cece Jefferson and OL Martez Ivey
Lost: DL Taven Bryan, K Eddy Pineiro, WR Antonio Callaway, S Marcell Harris
The early entry deadline brought a mixed bag of results for new coach Dan Mullen. Pineiro was one of the nation's top kickers and a valuable weapon for a struggling offense. Callaway didn't play last season due to a suspension, and Harris also missed the 2017 season due to an injury. Bryan recorded six tackles for a loss and was a solid presence on the interior. Jefferson (13.5 TFL) should push for All-SEC honors at end, and Ivey enters his senior year with 31 career starts.
Returning: OL Dalton Risner
Lost: WR Byron Pringle and CB D.J. Reed
Pringle and Reed were significant losses, but the news wasn’t all bad for coach Bill Snyder at the deadline. Standout tackle Risner is back for his senior year and should challenge for All-America honors on a line that is set to return all five starters.
Returning: OL Derwin Gray and Damian Prince
Lost: WR D.J. Moore and CB JC Jackson
Gray and Prince should push for All-Big Ten honors next season, but Moore and Jackson are big losses for coach DJ Durkin. Moore caught 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight scores in 2017. Jackson picked off three passes and was credited with seven pass breakups. With Jackson leaving, Maryland has lost six out of its top 10 tacklers from 2017.
Returning: QB Ryan Finley and DE Darian Roseboro
Lost: OL Will Richardson and RB Nyheim Hines
Finley’s return should keep NC State in the mix to be a top-25 team in 2018. However, Hines was one of only four running backs to rush for at least 1,000 yards in the ACC and averaged 143.7 all-purpose yards a game in 2017. With Richardson’s decision to leave early, along with guard Tony Adams expiring his eligibility, the Wolfpack have lost their best offensive linemen from last year. Roseboro’s return is key with four senior starters departing from the defensive front.
Returning: WR Stanley Morgan
Lost: QB Tanner Lee and OL Nick Gates
Lee wasn't going to be a perfect fit for new coach Scott Frost's offense, so the decision to go to the NFL makes sense. However, Gates is a big loss on a line that had an uneven 2017 season. Keeping Morgan in Lincoln was a huge plus for the new staff, as the junior caught 61 passes for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns in last year.
Returning: WR Deebo Samuel
Lost: TE Hayden Hurst
Quarterback Jake Bentley lost one key weapon to the NFL, but his go-to receiver is set to return in Columbia next fall. Hurst was one of the SEC’s top tight ends over the last two seasons and caught 44 passes for 559 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. Samuel missed most of last year due to injury but is one of the SEC’s top returning receivers for 2018.
Returning: LB Dakota Allen
Lost: WR Keke Coutee
Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense is losing one of the Big 12’s top receivers in Coutee. However, an improving defense regains the services of Allen for another year. Considering the track record of producing quarterbacks and receivers in Lubbock, Kingsbury should be able to find new playmakers on the outside.