With about a month to go before the Jan. 15 deadline to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, decision season is already in full swing for many underclassmen. Schools are applying for feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board and some highly talented players have some difficult calls to make when it comes to choosing whether to stay or go. Indeed, none of these decisions will be easy, and I'm in no position to make that decision for any player.
However, there are some standout underclassmen who I think would benefit from forgoing the 2015 draft and returning for another season of college football. Here are 10 underclassmen that I think can really help themselves long-term by staying in school (listed in alphabetical order).
USC WR Nelson Agholor
Agholor has the size and is playing at a high level. He's a great technician and hard worker, too. I still think there's room for him to help himself at the college level going up against Pac-12 competition, though. He faces good talent every day in practice at USC and could really vault himself up the board with another year of seasoning. Another year with Trojans wide receivers coach Tee Martin could do wonders for Agholor.
Oregon DL Arik Armstead
There's word that Armstead is strongly leaning toward entering the 2015 draft, but I think he could use another year in school. He has a basketball background and is a very intriguing athlete who improved as the season progressed. Armstead is like an erector set -- he's big and long-levered. Another year of working on maintaining leverage against blockers and getting stronger could help him a lot.
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Diggs has been well-hyped since his high school days, but he's not yet had the breakout year we've been waiting to see from him. He's battled injuries, and another year with the Terrapins would give him a chance to have that big year that has eluded him. Diggs could prove his durability and give his stock a big boost.
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Funchess encountered some difficulties in his first season as a wide receiver (he moved from tight end) as Michigan struggled, but he looks the part. However, if he's going to be a true wide receiver, another year in school would help him as he continues to shape his body and refine his route running at the position. He will have the challenge of working in a new offensive system with a new head coach if he changes his mind about turning pro and elects to return, though.
UCLA QB Brett Hundley
Around midseason, I thought coming back to UCLA for another season could be the best thing in the world for Hundley. Now, he improved his play, starting with the Oregon game, but I still feel he'd benefit from returning for another season with the Bruins. There are still concerns about his pocket presence and he could really boost his stock with another year of seasoning. There's plenty left for him to accomplish in college. No doubt, though, he's a great talent.
Mississippi State LB Benardrick McKinney
In today's NFL, you don't want to be a two-down linebacker. If McKinney is ready to play every down in the pros, then it's easy to see why he would be thinking about making the jump. At 249 pounds, though, he could reshape himself a bit in the college ranks to become a better fit for the NFL. Another strong year against tough SEC competition, this time at a lower weight where he's able to show off his athleticism a bit more, is worthy of his consideration.
Baylor DE Shawn Oakman
Oakman definitely looks the part from a physical perspective. He needs more work in school, though. He flashes, but he's still young in the game having sat out the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He's still getting comfortable playing the position and needs to work on adding more pass-rush moves and refining his technique. He'll have plenty of opportunities to improve as a pass rusher playing in the Big 12.
Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley
I saw Stanley in person when Notre Dame played USC and he was impressive. He moved from right tackle to step in for 2014 first-round pick Zack Martin at left tackle this season. But, the more reps you get at left tackle playing against top-flight pass rushers -- and he'll face those given Notre Dame's schedule -- could give him a big boost and put any lingering questions about him to rest.
Oklahoma DE Charles Tapper
Tapper is still young in terms of his football career given his basketball background. He continues to improve, although his numbers dipped a bit this season, and another year in school certainly won't hurt him. Sooners defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is highly respected and another year under his tutelage would no doubt enhance Tapper in the eyes of evaluators.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston
For Winston to reach his full potential and eliminate some of the questions about his character, he should return to FSU. His process, if he comes out after this year, is going to be very tough. The vetting process NFL teams go through on Winston's background will be intense given the off-field concerns. That process might still be tough for Winston even if he waits another year before declaring for the draft, but a year in school without off-the-field incidents would send a strong signal that he's maturing. If he enters the league before he's ready from a maturity standpoint, it could really cut down the length of his professional career.