I want to start this piece by making myself abundantly clear. These kids most likely just went through an incredibly tough weekend and this isn't meant to bash them or break them down.
I've never been in the position they were in. I've never had to listen to people break down my talent and advise me to head to the NFL early. The NBA and other pro sports leagues have a system in place for potential prospects to test the waters and then return to college if the interest isn't there.
The NFL is a different beast, though. Once you commit, there is no going back. If players think they are good enough for the NFL, declare and don't get drafted, they have to hope they can sign a free agent deal and claw their way on to the roster. If that doesn't happen, they can try to catch on with the Arena League or in Canada as a platform to get more exposure.
Here's are the players from the ACC that would have likely benefited from another year in school instead of declaring early for the draft.
Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
Evans is one of the bigger names that didn't get selected, but it wasn't a surprise. The 23-year-old QB shocked the Hokie fan base by declaring for the NFL Draft after just one season it Blacksburg. Evans lit up the stat sheet during the 2016 campaign but looked raw along the way. Talent evaluators wanted to see more, but Evans was ready to go. I've always thought if he returned in 2017 the Hokies could have made a real push toward the ACC title, but there's no way for me to break it all down without knowing every detail that was factored in Evans' choice.
Jerod Evans has a chip on his shoulder after going undrafted.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 30, 2017
The former JUCO standout didn't get drafted and has yet to sign a rookie free agent deal. Scouts have been highly critical of Evans, so there's a chance he doesn't get a look just yet. Evans has a massive chip on his shoulder and even made his Twitter header image a collage of every QB that was drafted as motivation. That's bold.
Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
NFL.com projected Scott as a 5th-6th round talent, but the former Clemson standout wrapped up the weekend without getting his name called. He didn't post the same numbers as Mike Williams, but was a solid role player in the Tigers' offense.
Scott had more than 900 yards receiving in each of his first two years at Clemson but took a small step back in 2016 (614 yards, five touchdowns). With Williams now gone, Scott could have been the focal point in Clemson's 2017 plans, but opted for greener pastures. Unfortunately, he didn't get drafted, but signed a free agent deal with the Chargers, ironically the same place Williams landed.
"Not particularly quick or fast," the NFL.com scouting profile on Scott said. "Missing kick out of his breaks for route separation. Routes lacking in vertical push and purpose. Needs to play at his top speed more often."
Scott feels like a player who could grind his way on to the final 53, but it will be an uphill climb.
Travis Rudolph, WR, Florida State
The nation fell in love with Rudolph last season when he made national headlines for eating lunch with a boy who had autism. There's no questioning Rudolph's character. A week before the draft, Rudolph's father was killed by an accidental gunshot wound. I was rooting for this kid hard.
With Deondre Francois finally comfortable at FSU, Rudolph could have been poised for a breakout season if he returned to college. Like others, he declared for the draft and didn't get picked, but landed a free agent deal with the Giants. That's a crowded receiving corps, but if he shines in New York and doesn't catch on, another team might scoop him up.
Joseph Yearby, RB, Miami
Yearby surpassed 1,000 yards in 2015 but finished 2016 with 608 yards and seven touchdowns. When Mark Richt came to town, Yearby went from being the full-time back to a third-string fill in. It's hard to fault him for testing the NFL waters. Could he have transferred somewhere for one season? Maybe, but that's a bunch of work.
Yearby wasn't expected to be drafted like some of the others, so he's ready to grind his way on to a NFL roster. The former Hurricane signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers, a place he could earn his keep and get a real shot.