NEW YORK – The NFL will limit the number of underclassmen who can receive evaluations for the draft to five from a single school, although special exceptions will be allowed.
Concerned about the record 107 underclassmen who applied for this year’s draft, and with 37 of them not selected, the league’s College Advisory Committee developed new guidelines for players considering forfeiting their final years of eligibility.
Troy Vincent, the league’s head of football operations, said Friday the underclassmen will be advised on their potential to be picked in the first or second round. They also could be advised to stay in school.
Previous assessments dealt with the first through third rounds, and whether a player had no potential of being selected.
“When you look at our accuracy rate, we did a good job evaluating first- and second-round picks,” Vincent told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Below – the third, fourth and fifth rounds – a lot of these players were not getting drafted. It’s better for these young men to remain a student-athlete for another year.”
Only two schools, LSU and California, had more than five underclassmen in this year’s draft. Six of LSU’s seven players were chosen, while only two of the six from Cal were drafted.
Qualifications for an exception will be taken on a case-by-case basis by the NFL committee.
Vincent emphasized the league is not prohibiting underclassmen from entering the draft, but “we want them to make an informed decision.”
He added that the basketball model in which players beyond their first year of eligibility can enter the NBA draft and then withdraw as long as they don’t hire an agent would not work for the NFL. Vincent fears “everybody would test the water every year” under a similar system applying to college players whose high school graduation class has completed its third year of college.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said at the SEC media days this week that “it’s getting overwhelming” for the NFL’s evaluation committee. The Crimson Tide had 11 players ask for evaluations after last season.
“A guy is going to get a first-round grade, a second-round grade or a stay-in-school grade,” Saban said. “Look, all these players that went out for the draft, that went out for the draft late, or didn’t get drafted, they were potential draft picks next year. They’re not in the draft next year. They’re not playing college football either.”