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Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu lead class of 73 early entrants for 2022 NFL Draft

Sportsnaut
Oct 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) warms up prior to a game against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) warms up prior to a game against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL granted 73 collegiate underclassmen special eligibility for the 2022 NFL Draft, the league said Friday.

To receive the special eligibility, a player must meet the league’s rule that requires a player be three years removed from high school, and he also must renounce his college football eligibility.

Players on the list include several who were prominent in college football in 2021: Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral; running backs Tyler Allgeier (BYU), Breece Hall (Iowa State) and Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M); Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean; Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton; LSU defensive back Derek Stingley Jr.; offensive tackles Evan Neal (Alabama) and Ikem Ekwonu (N.C. State); and wide receivers Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Drake London (USC), Wan’Dale Robinson (Kentucky), Skyy Moore (Western Michigan), David Bell (Purdue) and John Metchie (Alabama).

The deadline for receiving applications for special eligibility was Monday.

In addition, 27 underclassmen notified the NFL that they have fulfilled their degree requirements and will enter the draft, including North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Georgia running back Zamir White.

Neal, Ekwonu, Hamilton and Thibodeaux were projected as Top 5 draft picks in NFL.com’s mock draft, released Friday.

The draft is scheduled to be held April 28-30 at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, who have the No. 22 overall pick.

–Field Level Media