LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive tackle Michael Brockers officially announced their intention to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft and forgo their remaining eligibility with our Tigers. Both players were key components of a very impressive LSU defense in 2011.
LSU head coach Les Miles said about the players' decisions, "Mo is expected to be in the top 10 players if not in the top five players selected in the NFL Draft. The opportunity to improve his draft position really doesn't exist. I think Michael Brockers has the potential to improve his overall draft position but is making in my opinion a decision that allows him to fulfill an obligation to his family."
Claiborne won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back this season and was an All-American. Claiborne led our Tigers this season with 6 interceptions and led the nation in interception return yardage in addition to being a dangerous kick return man. He is likely to be the first cornerback selected in the draft and a Top 10 overall pick. To be honest, I never thought Claiborne would return for his senior year anyway so this announcement is not shocking.
I had some hope that Brockers, a redshirt sophomore, would return to the Tigers. He was a second-team All-SEC selection this past season. Brockers was a starter in every game at defensive tackle. In the 2011 season, he made 54 tackles (10 for loss), 2 sacks, an interception and blocked a field goal in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama.
In addition to Claiborne and Brockers leaving early, there are reports out that wide receivers Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard are also going to enter the NFL Draft. However, they did not make their decisions official with Claiborne and Brockers. The final day for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is Sunday, Jan. 15. Like Brockers, Randle is another player I had hope for in terms of returning. However, I can't really seeing his draft status improving with another season. Shepard seems disgruntled judging from his latest Twitter updates. I never expected him to leave early based on his limited playing time, but we will find out for sure in the coming days if he will be in the draft.
As an LSU fan, I wish all former Tigers success as they enter the NFL Draft and look forward to seeing them play on Sundays.
More from Patrick Johnston:
"Claiborne, Brockers Intend to Enter NFL Draft ", LSU Sports.net