Offensive linemen highlight 2012 NFL Draft early entrants

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02: Andrew Luck #12 and David DeCastro #52 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrate after Luck threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz #86 in the third quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tuesday was by far the busiest day of 2012 NFL Draft declaration news yet with eight players going pro. The biggest names were players along the offensive line.

Joining fellow Cardinal players Andrew Luck and Jonathan Martin in the draft Tuesday was right guard David DeCastro. He's regarded as the best guard to come out in several years and could end up being a top 15 pick (at worst).

DeCastro and Martin weren't the only talented linemen to go pro Tuesday. They were joined by Iowa left tackle Riley Reiff. He'll challenge Martin as the second tackle to be drafted in April.

San Diego State redshirt sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman told the San Diego Union-Tribune he was going pro despite receiving a third-round grade from the draft advisory board. It's a risky move by Hillman, but ultimately a good one. It's true, he's a third-round prospect. But given the short career span for running backs, Hillman is essentially gambling to get the big second contract. Hillman is a shifty, undersized back who sometimes dances too much behind the line of scrimmage. He struggled greatly in the New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana-Lafayette gaining just 55 yards on 24 carries.

Another unlikely running back in South Florida's Darrell Scott entered the draft. In his first season with the Bulls, Scott showed on occasion why he was such a highly regarded high school prospect. Originally a Colorado commit, Scott has questions about his work ethic. But when he's on, he has a chance to be very good. He has a nice combination of size and speed and rushed for 814 yards nd had six touchdowns this season.

By my count, that's 28 underclassmen who have declared for the draft. That's half as many as last year, so expect more news before the Jan. 15 declaration deadline. Up next should be the future Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. Check out all the underclassmen decisions on our tracker page here.

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