After an all-time high of 98 underclassmen declared for this year’s NFL draft, the NFL’s College Advisory Committee has changed some of its policies to encourage more players to stay in school.
The draft advisory board’s new guidelines, which the league has provided to PFT, state that players who don’t project as a first- or second-round pick will be told they should remain in school. In the past, players who projected as third-round picks or later would be told that. Now they’ll just be told they should play another year of college football.
The NFL has also said it will limit requests for evaluations to five underclassmen per college team. That new policy was first revealed today by Alabama coach Nick Saban, although that policy may not apply to Saban’s program: The policy says that the College Advisory Committee may decide on a case-by-case basis to evaluate more than five players on one college team, and Saban’s talent-loaded Crimson Tide would surely be one of the teams that ends up getting more than five evaluations.
The ultimate effect of the new policy will be to encourage all but the best prospects to keep playing college football. That could end up being bad news for some players who would like to turn pro if they’re expected to be third-round picks but will now be told that they shouldn’t enter the draft. But the NFL would prefer that most players fulfill their NCAA eligibility, and this new policy is a step toward reducing the number of underclassmen who are tempted to enter the draft.