Draft Notes: Collins, Clark, Howard

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins announced that he is entering the NFL Draft and foregoing his senior season at Nebraska, as Sam McKewon of the World-Herald writes.

It’s always been a dream of mine, and I got a good grade back (from the NFL’s draft advisory board),” Collins said when asked why he’s headed to the NFL one year early. “I talked it over with my teammates and I talked it over with Coach (Mike) Riley and it seems like the best decision for me.”

Collins, a team captain in 2015, racked up 29 total tackles with 2.5 sacks this season. Many have projected that Collins will go in the first round of the NFL Draft this season and his grade from the NFL draft advisory board likely supported that forecast.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • UCLA Bruins junior defensive tackle Kenny Clark announced on Twitter that he will skip his senior year to declare for the draft. NFL talent evaluators are high on the 6’3″, 310-pound junior and he could wind up being a late first-round pick. Clark recorded a sack and season-high eight solo tackles in UCLA’s bowl loss to Nebraska on Dec. 26. For the season, he had 47 tackles and six sacks.
  • Indiana junior running back Jordan Howard announced that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2016 Draft. A first team All-Big Ten selection, Howard entered the bowl season second in the Big Ten with 134.8 rushing yards per game (9th nationally) and 146.6 all-purpose yards per game (15th). Injuries have been an issue for Howard in the past, but he is considered by some to be one of the five best tailbacks in this year’s class. One has to imagine that his medical exams will play a big factor in where he lands.
  • University of Miami junior cornerback Artie Burns announced that he has elected to forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the draft. “After considering all the options, and looking into my future, I feel it is in my best interest to forego my senior year and declare for the NFL Draft,” Burns said in a statement. “I can’t put into words what these past three years have meant to me in my development as a football player but even more importantly as a man.” Burns could wind up as a consensus top five corner in this year’s class depending on what others at his position do.
  • Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Cayleb Jones took to Twitter to announce that he is going pro. The 6’3″ athlete is rated as the No. 23 junior wide receiver prospect by NFLDraftScout.com and he appears to be taking a risk by jumping to the NFL. Jones originally committed to the Texas and played in 10 games as a frosh before transferring to Arizona and sitting out for one year. While at Texas, Jones picked up a felony assault charge that was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
  • The Texas Longhorns announced that junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway has decided to go pro. An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2015, Ridgeway played in 36 career games with 18 starts. In that time, he recorded 92 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Ridgeway is rated as the No. 5 nose tackle by WalterFootball.com and his stock could rise if any of the three underclassmen ranked ahead of him opt to stay in school.
  • Washington junior running back Dwayne Washington will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, as Adam Jude of the Seattle Times writes. Washington did not play in UW’s final four games because of a knee injury, an issue which required minor surgery. The tailback started six games for UW this season and finished as UW’s second-leading rusher with 282 yards. His seven total touchdowns were also second-most on the team. Washington garnered attention in 2014 when he converted from wide receiver to running back, though his frame still looks like that of a receiver.
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