Plenty of underclassmen won’t be drafted at all

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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.

19 responses to “Plenty of underclassmen won’t be drafted at all

  1. A more meaningful statistic would be those still playing after several years.

    Can you provide those numbers?

  2. The number of players drafted each year is about the same. The NFL behavior hasn’t changed, which means the players or agents have. The article, and reader, would be better served with some in-depth insight as to why mire underclass are opting for the draft. Unscrupulous agents? Ill advice from the draft board? Increased player dissatisfaction with NCAA servitude?

  3. Sometimes you find a gem among the undrafted free agents: Wes Welker, London Fletcher, Antonio Gates–plus James Harrison, Ryan Clark, and Isaac Redman on the Steelers current roster. I’ll be thrilled if teams leave talent like that for the taking.

  4. It would also be interesting to see how many of the underclassmen, drafted and undrafted, were able to make a roster in even the first season.

    Vontaze Burfict is one of the underclassmen who wasn’t drafted but still saw a lot of playing time.

  5. Won’t be drafted in the NFL that is. Japan’s corporation X-league is gaining some ground, quite a few of our people going over there, that’s where I would go if not drafted.

  6. A college education is so important these days (that is one with an employable major). If the NFL really wants to take a giant leap toward the common good of society, they should require 4 years of college to play in the NFL. Yes, a few may suffer from the rule, but it would really increase a large number of students in America to stay in school.

  7. That number is way too high. There should not be any 3rd round or below juniors. Juniors should only be allowed to turn pro if they will get drafted in the first 2 rounds.

  8. Corey Jeppesen says: Jan 19, 2013 7:19 PM

    A college education is so important these days (that is one with an employable major). If the NFL really wants to take a giant leap toward the common good of society, they should require 4 years of college to play in the NFL. Yes, a few may suffer from the rule, but it would really increase a large number of students in America to stay in school.

    Good point. I’m sure the NFL doesn’t really care whether or not these kids graduate. What they are all for is major competition, that’s why they adjusted the pre-season roster number per team. The greater # of players = assurance that the best players will be on the field. Which in turn = better ratings on TV and more fans willing to come to the games, which means more sales of NFL gear and so on and so on. Good point though.

  9. @EJ

    I somewhat agree with you but most guys don’t want to risk injury playing for free or have their draft stock plummet. Such as Barkley, he would have been a top 10 pick last year if he came out, instead he stays and will now be lucky to be picked in the 1st round. And look at Lattimore, he suffered what could be a career altering injury, but chooses to go pro to get the best rehab he can get from an NFL team. So I can see what your saying would help a lot of kids, but it would also hurt a lot of them too. Plus, if they were actually serious about their education, they usually go back. Cam is finishing his degree, RG3 is getting his masters, Luck finished after he was drafted. So those who actually wanted an education, instead of just playing football, actually do get their degrees. But a lot don’t.

  10. The teams with the smart GM’s who do their due diligence and homework can clean up, with un-drafted free agents. They can get quality players and save a few bucks at the same time.

  11. I’d make the jump even if I wasn’t going to get drafted either. The UDFA wage scale starts at $75,000. That’s huge compared to many college grads who can’t even find work right now.

    If you were getting offered that you would gladly pay off your last 2 semesters for school as well.

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