102 players gain early entry to the draft


Three years ago, the NFL removed the top-10 windfalls that previously lured college players for a shot at the NFL’s version of Powerball.  And yet the number of players leaving college early continues to climb.

The NFL has announced that 102 players have been given early entrance to the draft.  Of that amount, 98 have obtained “special eligibility” via being at least three years removed from high school.  Another four (including former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater) are eligible because they have graduated from college.

The league wisely has separated the two numbers in the press release announcing the move, creating the impression that the number of players abandoning the NFL’s free farm system early hasn’t crossed the century mark.  In reality, it has.

The prior record, set one year ago, was 73.  In only 12 months, the number has skyrocketed by 39.7 percent.

College coaches have remained largely silent in the face of the post-rookie wage scale trend, which has placed increased importance on getting to the NFL and putting in time toward a second contract.  But they’re now losing quality players at an unprecedented pace, which in turn threatens to prematurely displace veteran players who have much higher minimum salaries.

While the current labor deal extends into the next decade, the NFL and NFLPA can decide at any time to modify the deal to make an early jump to pro football less enticing.  It could be in the mutual interests of labor and management to find a solution, whatever it may be.

14 responses to “102 players gain early entry to the draft

  1. How is it in the NFL’s or the NFLPA’s best interests to solve this “problem”? NFL owners now get a supply of younger players who will typically be cheaper than veteran options. The NFLPA gets to trumpet earlier free agency (or younger, to be more precise). Will they care that some veterans will lose jobs? Not likely – the total number of card carrying players doesn’t change and the earlier onset of free agency is likely a bigger draw to players – especially since most of them likely think they won’t be that veteran who gets cut down the road.

    The only entity that cares is the NCAA. And no one cares what they think. What are they going to do? Fold up their tents and go home?

  2. How many of these will not be drafted. That is the key number. They leave college don’t get drafted and the career is over. Some need to stay. That’s almost over 1/2 those. drafted. 7 rounds 32 picks equal 214 drafted 102 underclassmen. Wow

  3. I’m surprised Vic Beasley is going back to school. And naturally not all of them will be drafted, every year some players declare that think they will get drafted and then don’t. This wouldn’t be the first year to have somebody change their mind after they see the results of where they are drafted, but it’s too late then. That’s why you don’t declare for the draft unless you are sure it’s your best move. In Beasley’s case, I read that he had a really hard time deciding what to do and he decided to go back to school because of the 2nd round advisory grade he received, plus surely a lot of pressure from people close to him who used that fear to convince him to stay where they wanted him to stay. He said his coach convinced him that it was clearly in his best interests to improve his game, otherwise he would have been #103.

  4. This is great for rebuilding teams…1st rounders available in the 2nd…which pushes 2nd rounders to the 3rd…and so on.

  5. How many don’t get drafted, is a good point. I wonder how many leave early because they struggle with academic eligibility? A lot of guys have no business being there which is sad considering the number who enroll early and graduate in 3 years. I am sure it is easy at some of these schools to stay eligible taking courses that are essentially high school classes, but at some point you run out of them.

  6. Why is this a bad thing for the NFLPA, owners or NFL fans?

    This is great news for everybody but the NCAA. Excellent.

  7. What happened to staying in school if you were not a first round pick? Is anyone advising these kids not all of them will play in the NFL?

  8. How many of these will become undrafted free agents? Quite a lot. Also, it might be a good idea to learn how to read so they can tell what the contract says when they sign. I can’t believe that there all those college players out there that can’t read or barely read. Can’t just be North Carolina and Duke.

  9. I think the NFL probably hates this. The college scouts must – because instead of looking for somewhat proven talent, they have to scout on “potential”. Good Dog that is a scary word when gajillion of dollars is concerned. Nothing is a given, but more time in college gets the more film to at least try to avoid huge mistakes. I would say that is especially true with QBs.

  10. Should be a wild draft this year. Big boards will shift after combine, rumors and speculation. Awesome. Gotta draft some speed these days.

  11. Here’s the real reason why players leave college early: their money is getting stolen by the frauds known as the NCAA.

    The NFL has to do nothing to stop underclassmen from coming.

    The NCAA has to admit that the time and investment in education and sports is one that gives to cruddy return.

    If you don’t want them to earn in the Pros early at least let them have part time jobs while they’re in school. Their, along with the NCAA’s, morales will be higher and they can at least earn a decent living when it’s hard for their families to.

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