With a record 73 underclassmen certified to enter the 2013 draft, an obvious question arises: How many will be drafted?
Here’s an obvious answer: Not all of them.
The 2012 Official NFL Record & Fact Book has the full chart of eligible underclassmen who were drafted, dating back to 1990. In recent years, the number has been dropping.
In 2012, 44 of 65 were drafted, for a success rate 67.6 percent. In 2011, the rate was 76.7 percent, with 43 of 56 picked. In 2010, 86.7 percent were picked — 46 of 53. In 2009, the rate was 89.1 percent.
So the percentage has been dropping significantly since the rookie wage scale was created, possibly because agents are having more success persuading non-elite players to quit playing for free and start racking up years of service toward a second contract that will be unconstrained by a wage scale.
That said, the elite players are bailing early, too. In each of the past two years, eight of the top 10 players picked were underclassmen. For those players, however, the path to a major payday could be even longer; under the new rookie wage scale, first-round picks are forced to sign four-year contracts, with the team holding the ability to keep them for a fifth year at a salary much lower than the franchise tender.