As the January 15 deadline approaches for players with NCAA eligibility to declare for the NFL draft, several players have announced their intentions.
Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, both of whom are viewed as likely first-round picks, both confirmed today that they’re leaving school and heading to the NFL.
Burfict is a huge talent with a questionable work ethic: Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson described Burfict’s 2011 season as “just average” and defensive coordinator Craig Bray made clear that he didn’t think Burfict was trying hard enough. Burfict also picked up some costly personal foul penalties. Some NFL coaches will want to steer clear of him, but he definitely has the tools to be a very good NFL player, and all it takes is one team that thinks it can get his head on straight.
Cox was a first-team All-SEC selection this season and had 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Cox is a very athletic 6-foot-4, 295-pounder who should turn in a good performance at the Combine.
Other players announcing their plans to enter the 2012 NFL draft include:
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who led the NCAA with 16 sacks this season.
Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu, who caught 115 passes for 1,206 yards this season.
North Carolina defensive end Donte Paige-Moss, whose stock took a huge hit when he suffered a torn ACL in the Independence Bowl.
Washington running back Chris Polk, who had 147 yards in the Huskies’ Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor.
Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens, who led the ACC with 1,330 receiving yards.