Underclassmen Update: Are floodgates opening?

Underclassmen Update: Are floodgates opening?

A lot has happened since our last update and most of it has been surprising. Marginal underclassmen who project as late round picks or worse have decided to make the jump to the NFL. What is causing a near record number of juniors to pin their hopes on next April's draft?

Two more North Carolina State juniors are out the door and to the NFL.  Offensive tackle Derek Morris is set to leave even though the advisory committee projected him as late as the fifth round.  Defensive tackle John McCargo is also leaving though he missed the final five games of the season with a broken foot.  Considered the most consistent defensive lineman for the Wolfpack, McCargo could slide into the late part of the draft's first day if healthy.

TCU receiver\return specialist Cory Rogers declared for the draft late yesterday.   The game breaking wide out leaves TCU after tying Mike Renfro's school-record 17 career touchdown catches.  A dynamic return-man, he averaged 30.3-yards on 17 kick returns, bringing two back for touchdowns.  Rogers also averaged 15.3 yards on 19 punt returns.  A tall slim wide out, Rogers is someone we spoke at length about during our pre-season report on the Horned Frogs yet is not a prospect we feel is NFL ready.

Derrick Martin, a cornerback prospect from Wyoming with loads of upside, has also declared for the draft.  A second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection as a sophomore, Martin's play was uninspired last season and many scouts were surprised the junior left for the draft.  Martin himself admitted '05 was a down year telling reporters, "the reason I didn't play well this past year was because I took a few plays off. I had a few injuries, stuff like that."

Receiver D.J. Smith of Idaho opted to forego his senior season and is making himself available for the NFL draft.  Citing family concerns as the reason for leaving, Smith caught 67 passes for 1,001 yards and seven touchdowns last year.  A second team All-WAC player, he set an UI record for most receiving yards in a game with 269 on 11 catches against UNLV last September 10th.

One who won't be entering the draft is Penn State linebacker Paul PoslusznyWinner of the Butkus Award as the country's top linebacker, Posluszny partially tore two ligaments in his right knee during the Nittany Lions triple overtime victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl.  He will need six to eight weeks of rehabilitation but could be ready when spring practice starts in late March.

One league source told us to expect the flood gates to open soon as the NFL expects a record number of underclassmen, most of whom will not be drafted, to enter next April's selection process.

The cause of this? 

The speculative "rookie-salary cap" rumored to be a part of the next collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA.  Sources have told us some agents are telling underclassmen it is in their best interest to leave for the NFL now, before a new CBA is agreed upon.  The reason being a "rookie salary cap" would restrict their earning capacity during the early years.

The problem is their is no rookie salary cap seriously being considered.  While the present CBA designates each team a rookie-pool to sign first year players, sources have told us their is no plan to implement a rookie salary cap.

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