It looks like there will be more junior entries coming from Michigan once their playoff run is over. There could also be a shake-up at the running back position. Details on this and more in the latest NFL Draft news and rumors underclassmen update as we inch closer to April.
NFL Draft News and Rumors: Underclassmen Update
Mazi Smith and Mike Morris, Michigan
Last week, I reported Wolverine cornerback DJ Turner is narrowing down his list of prospective agents and will enter the draft once the college football playoffs conclude for the Wolverines. I’m now told two more UM defenders are likely to follow suit. Word in the scouting community says defensive tackle Mazi Smith and pass rusher Mike Morris will both enter the draft.
I am much higher than most on Smith and believe he has first-round potential. Smith will be the talk of the town after the Combine, as his testing marks will be off the charts. Morris comes off a career season in which he totaled 7.5 sacks and 11 TFLs. He possesses outstanding upside but still needs work on his game. Morris will end up as a day-two selection.
Zach Evans, Ole Miss
Several weeks ago, I reported Ole Miss running back Zach Evans would enter the draft. The latest I’m hearing is that Evans received third-round grades from scouts, the same round I have him on my board. Evans is not happy with those opinions.
He is debating a return to Ole Miss with the hopes of improving his draft grade. While that’s good news for the Rebels, it doesn’t make a lot of sense as Evans will not project as a first-round prospect in 2024.
Tyjae Spears, Tulane
Tyjae Spears of Tulane is going through the process, and he’s considering making the move to the next level. In fact, several tell me the running back will enter the draft. Spears had a spectacular season, totaling 1376 rushing yards with 15 TDs. He also caught 21 passes.
Over the past three seasons, Spears is averaging just under 7 yards per carry on 378 attempts. He’ll be a terrific third-down back/situational runner, and Spears should be selected during the back end of day two if he eventually enters the draft.
Darnell Washington, Georgia
I’ve received further confirmation Georgia tight end Darnell Washington will enter the draft after initially reporting this a few weeks ago. Scouts tell me Washington will be selected earlier in the draft than most think.
The feeling from scouts I’ve spoken with is Washington is a terrific tight end who has the misfortune of playing behind Brock Bowers, a future star at the position.
Mississippi State Players
The recent news on the tragic passing of Mike Leach will impact the decisions of Mississippi State players. I’m told two seniors — defensive lineman Cameron Young and linebacker Nathaniel Watson — were ready to return to MSU and take advantage of a second senior season but will do an about-face and enter the draft.
I’m also told there’s chatter that quarterback Will Rogers will enter the transfer portal if he doesn’t enter the draft.
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