Watson among 103 to give up eligibility to enter NFL draft


By Ralph D. Russo - AP College Football Writer



NEW YORK (AP) — For the second straight year, more than 100 college players are giving up eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

The league on Friday released a list of 95 underclassmen who have been granted early entry to draft, along with the names of eight other players, including Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who are draft-eligible by completing their college degrees.

Last year 96 underclassmen declared for the draft and 11 others became eligible by finishing their degrees. Of those 96 underclassmen, 66 were drafted (69 percent). In 2015, 71 percent of 74 underclassmen were drafted.

The record for underclassmen declaring for the draft is 98 in 2014.

This year’s draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Browns have the first pick.

Ohio State has six players among this year’s 103 early entrants, including All-Americans Curtis Samuel and Malik Hooker.

Watson was one of four players from the national champion Tigers to enter the draft early after graduating, joining receivers Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and running back Wayne Gallman.

Among the other notable underclassmen entering the draft are star running backs Leonard Fournette of LSU, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Junior quarterbacks DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Trubisky of North Carolina are expected to challenge Watson to be the first quarterback drafted.

Miami’s Brad Kaaya, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans are the other quarterbacks entering the draft early.

Texas A&M junior defensive end Myles Garrett could be the first player picked overall.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

By Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer