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Big Ten 2015 NFL Draft early entrant list

It was a banner year in bowl games for the Big Ten, and for many of the teams that won underclassmen were keys to victory. However, many of those underclassmen also have had major seasons in 2014.

As a result, underclassmen from the Big Ten have begun to declare for the NFL Draft. We’re giving you a rundown of the players taking their talents to the big leagues as they come in. Also, the deadline for declaring early is Jan. 15.

So, here are the players (in alphabetical order) that have declared for the NFL Draft from the Big Ten.

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Deion Barnes, Penn State DE 20130918_dn_0mt57sjp

Height/Weight: 6-4, 255 pounds

2014 Stats: 44 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 3 QB hurries

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: N/A

Who Takes Over: Both starting defensive ends are now gone at Penn State and that means some big shoes to fill. Look for Garrett Sickles (11 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss) to get the first crack, but there are other options in former walk-on Carl Nassib and intriguing youngster Torrence Brown to look at as well. Brown could be a massive help if he’s up to the task, while PSU also added a few defensive ends already in the 2015 class.

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Tevin Coleman, Indiana RBNCAA Football: Indiana at Bowling Green

Height/Weight: 6-0, 210 pounds

2014 Stats: 270 carries, 2,036 rushing yards, 7.5 ypc, 15 TDs; 25 catches, 141 yards

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 2 (No. 34; Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Who Takes Over: This would’ve been a major question mark for the Hoosiers next season, but UAB went and cancelled its football program. With that happening, 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard has transferred to Indiana and will be immediately eligible to play. Howard racked up 1,587 yards and had 13 touchdowns while also averaging 5.2 yards per carry. While the jump from Conference-USA to the Big Ten is a big one, Howard is a legit running back.

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Stefon Diggs, Maryland WRstefon-diggs-ncaa-football-maryland-penn-state1-850x560

Height/Weight: 6-0, 195 pounds

2014 Stats: 62 receptions, 792 yards, 5 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 2 (No. 63; New England Patriots)

Who Takes Over: Diggs will join Deon Long in looking at a post-Maryland future. That means Maryland will have a totally revamped passing attack next season. Marcus Leak (20 receptions, 297 yards, 3 TDs) and Jacquille Veil (16 receptions, 230 yards, 1 TD) were major contributors behind the stars this season and should step in to starring roles next year.

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Devin Funchess, Michigan WRhi-res-84a56a2c2c5aa4be34590740d3659d14_crop_north

Height/Weight: 6-5, 235 pounds

2014 Stats: 62 catches, 733 yards, 4 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 2 (No. 42; Atlanta Falcons)

Who Takes Over: If there is a starter not named Amara Darboh in the spot that Funchess occupied in 2014 it would be a complete shock. Darboh racked up 36 receptions for 473 yards and 2 TDs

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Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin RBNCAA Football: Wisconsin at Purdue

Height/Weight: 6-1, 207 pounds

2014 Stats: 343 carries, 2,587 yards, 29 TDs, 7.5 ypc; 19 catches, 153 yards, 3 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 1 (No. 18, San Diego Chargers)

Who Takes Over: Duh, Corey Clement takes over and guess what? He’s pretty freaking good himself (). The better question may be who exactly is going to take over as backup, with the Badgers having at least four freshmen battling it out along with unexpected backup Dare Ogunbowale. Don’t be surprised to hear 4-star 2015 RB Jordan Stevenson’s name called in his first year either.

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Randy Gregory, Nebraska DERandy-Gregory-2

Height/Weight: 6-6, 245 pounds

2014 Stats: 54 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, 7 sacks, 16 QB hurries, 2 blocked kicks

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 1 (No. 4; Oakland Raiders)

Who Takes Over: Gregory happened to be injured a few times in 2014, and in his place was former walk-on Jack Gangwish (19 tackles, 4 tackles-for-loss). He’ll get the first crack at it in 2015, but with a new coaching staff in place this could be an interesting offseason on the defensive line.

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Jesse James, Penn State TEPSU Wisconsin

Height/Weight: 6-7, 254 pounds

2014 Stats: 38 receptions, 396 yards, 3 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: N/A

Who Takes Over: If there’s one position with the depth to not have to worry about someone going pro early on the Penn State roster it is tight end. That said, look for a name like now-sophomore Mike Gesicki (11 receptions, 114 yards) take over as a primary pass-catching option at the position in 2015.

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Tyler Kroft, Rutgers TE Tyler Kroft

Height/Weight: 6-6, 240 pounds

2014 Stats: 24 catches, 269 yards, 0 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: N/A

Who Takes Over: There’s a massive hole left by Kroft’s somewhat surprising move to leave early. Behind Kroft this season was redshirt freshman Matt Flanagan and sophomore Nick Arcidiacono. The problem is that the young duo had exactly one catch this past season. In an offense as wide open as Ralph Friedgen’s that’s a major issue that must be overcome.

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Donovan Smith, Penn State OTNCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State

Height/Weight: 6-5, 340 pounds

2014 Stats: 11 starts (Left Tackle)

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: N/A

Who Takes Over: Albert Hall backed up Smith all season long, and the now-junior could be in line to take over. However, he is a converted tight end who came to OL because of a lack of numbers. PSU has hit the recruiting trail hard, so don’t be surprised to see names like 4-star early entrant freshmen Sterling Jenkins or JUCO transfer Paris Palmer to get a crack at things.

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Noah Spence, Ohio State DE Ohio State DE Noah Spence

Height/Weight: 6-3, 250 pounds

2014 Stats: Suspended all last season due to drug policy violation, his appeal was denied back in November and his status for the NFL Draft is going to be really interesting.

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: N/A

Who Takes Over: Already been there and done that. Steve Miller (insert your Steve Miller band joke there) took over and played pretty well, but was overshadowed by three very talented players. He finished the 2014 season with 33 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss and that crazy pick 6 against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

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Trae Waynes, Michigan State CBtrae-waynes

Height/Weight: 6-1, 182 pounds

2014 Stats: 46 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss, 3 interceptions, 8 pass breakups, 11 deflections

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 1 (No. 20, Philadelphia Eagles)

Who Takes Over: Don’t expect Darien Hicks to take over for Waynes, as there are open spots on both sides of the ball. Hicks likely moves to field corner by all indications, and that means there are going to be a lot of green options (no pun intended). Don’t be surprised to see Jermaine Edmondson to take this spot over, as he was Waynes’ primary backup this season. MSU could also move Demetrious Cox to this spot, and that’s something to watch this offseason.

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Maxx Williams, Minnesota TE maxx-williams-ncaa-football-minnesota-indiana-850x560

Height/Weight: 6-4, 250 pounds

2014 Stats: 36 catches, 569 yards, 8 TDs

WalterFootball.com Mock Draft Pick: Round 2 (No. 36; Jacksonville Jaguars)

Who Takes Over: Not only is Williams taking off early, but Drew Goodger is also out of eligibility. That means a whole new look at tight end. Minnesota may not have someone of Williams’ capacity on the roster (and few teams do), but they will likely turn to now-sophomore Brandon Lingen (2 receptions, 18 yards). Another option could be Lincoln Pisek (5 receptions, 53 yards).

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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