Amari Cooper, Landon Collins and T.J. Yeldon to Declare for NFL Draft
As with almost every season at Alabama since Nick Saban has been the head coach, several juniors are expected to forego their senior seasons and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Such early entrees from the recent past include Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones and Eddie Lacy. According to reports, at least three more Crimson Tide juniors have played their final downs at the Capstone and are headed to the NFL.
Earlier today Michael Casagrande of al.com reported that junior safety Landon Collins will declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. The exit of Collins was expected by many as he is projected by ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay to be selected as high as ninth overall. Those projections very well could change between now and April 30th, the start of the draft. However, praise for Collins, a unanimous All-American this season, has been consistent and unless anything drastic occurs he should be a first-round lock.
The news continued when ESPN's Alex Scarborough reported that receiver Amari Cooper and running back TJ Yeldon would also declare early. Cooper's stock is about as high as you can get. The unanimous All-American, Biletnikoff Award winner and Heisman Trophy finalist is almost assuredly a top ten selection. Yeldon is a more interesting case, however, given the nature of his position. He will probably not go in the first round, but in today's NFL, running backs have been devalued to the point where some of the best prospects may not go until the second round. Also, because the running backs tend to end their careers much earlier than players at other positions, it becomes wise for a back like Yeldon to declare early even without a first-round grade.
It should be noted that there has been no official announcement from Alabama Athletics or anyone associated with the football team as of this time. Last year, a press conference was held for the announcement of players leaving early.
There are two more players on Alabama's roster who could declare early as well, though they have yet to make a decision. Defensive lineman Jarran Reed and linebacker Reggie Ragland have expressed interest in leaving for the draft. Underclassmen have until January 15th to petition for early draft entry.
The 2015 NFL Draft will be held April 30th until May 2nd. This year, the draft beaks from the tradition of being held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and instead will be held at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.