Vanderbilt is set to return quite a few players from what was one of the league’s top defenses in 2015.

But the optimism for 2016’s version has to be dampened a little by OLB Stephen Weatherly’s decision to forgo his final season and enter the NFL Draft.

According to The Tennessean’s Adam Sparks, it was a decision that Weatherly made shortly after the Commodores finished their 4-8 season with a blowout loss to Tennessee in late November.

“At the end of the season after the Tennessee game and the senior banquet, my family was in town and we talked for hours about it. That next week I met with coach (Derek) Mason and (linebackers) coach (Kenwick) Thompson. We all agreed that it was in my best interests to go ahead and go into the draft.”

Sparks reports that the athletic pass rusher from Derek Mason’s 3-4 scheme did not receive a first or second-round grade from the NFL’s pre-draft analysis issued to underclassmen who are interested in testing the professional waters.

Nonetheless, Weatherly felt it was the right time to make the move.

Sparks cited financial incentives for his family as one of Weatherly’s underlying motivations.

Weatherly finished the 2015 season with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.