Good, bad early-entry decisions

Mel Kiper considers 10 underclassmen who left and 10 who stayed

Updated: January 16, 2013, 10:32 AM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

Logan ThomasJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesLogan Thomas made the right decision for his draft stock in returning to Virginia Tech.

Tuesday was the final day for juniors and draft-eligible sophomores to declare for the NFL draft. It's a tough decision for a number of reasons. If you're a junior likely to be drafted, the temptation to actually cash paychecks to play football is significant. After all, if you're draft-worthy at all, you've probably taken your share of hits by the end of your third college football season. Fans can question a junior who declares and say, "He's not going to be drafted any higher than the third round!" But put yourself in the position of a kid weighing whether to return to school and face injury worries over the possibility of a third-round paycheck of, say, $3 million over the next four years. That's not exactly entry-level money on the current job market.

So let's take a look at some who stayed and some who left, and consider whether they made a good or ball call, with only the 2013 NFL draft in mind.

Headed back to college

Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Good call. I think at full strength he had the potential to be a late-first-round pick, but Nix can come back and play on a dominant defensive line. A very good player like Nix, with his skill set, will maintain his value.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide: Bad call. Mosley finished the season on a high note, and when you factor in his exceptional coverage skills, he would have had the chance to challenge the upper half of the first round, and possibly be the second interior linebacker off the board. I'm not worried that he won't be a valuable draft commodity at this time next season, but he legitimately risks losing value if he gets hurt.


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst