Last January, the NFL announced names of 96 total underclassmen who were granted eligibility for the 2016 NFL Draft. And now with less than a week before the Jan. 16 deadline for underclassmen to file declaration papers with the league, 85 underclassmen have released their intentions to enter the 2017 Draft.
On Tuesday, Michigan defender Jabrill Peppers became the latest to make his pro desires known.
"It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Peppers said in an article published in Sports Illustrated. "I'm choosing between cementing my legacy as a college player and starting my pro legacy. It's something you dream of when you were a kid. I was torn between the two."
Peppers, an East Orange, NJ native who attended Paramus Catholic and Don Bosco Preparatory High School, did everything for the Wolverines. As a freshman in 2015, he played safety and was named the Big 10's freshman of the year with 10 PDs while averaging 27.9 yards and 11.4 yards on kick and punt returns respectively. Then this past season, Peppers moved up to linebacker and finished with 72 tackles (16 tackles for loss), a forced fumble and an interception.
In the 2016 draft, 30 of the 96 early-entry prospects went undrafted. The Jets selected Ohio State LB Darron Lee and Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg in the first and second rounds respectively. Ohio State product Jalin Marshall, who left after two years in Columbus, signed with the club as an undrafted free agent in May.