Senior Bowl executive thinks too many juniors enter the draft

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A record 102 players who still have NCAA eligibility remaining have decided to enter this year’s NFL draft, and the head of the Senior Bowl doesn’t think that’s a good thing for the sport.

“I think it’s an issue and something for the good of the game, both at the college level and the NFL level, that’s going to have to be addressed, one way or the other,” Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage told the Charlotte Observer. “When you see almost 100 underclassmen come into the draft, and there are 250-some odd slots, there’s going to be a lot of kids that have been sold a bill of goods come the first week of May. Personally I think it’s bad for college football and I think it’s bad for the NFL, because players are coming into the league after three years of college and they’re not ready.”

It’s also, obviously, bad for the Senior Bowl. As fewer and fewer top prospects stay in college through their senior seasons, the all-star game featuring the best seniors becomes less and less important.

But a college junior doesn’t have any responsibility to do what’s best for college football, what’s best for the NFL or what’s best for the Senior Bowl. He has a responsibility to do what’s best for himself. And if you’re a good enough football player to play in the NFL, the best thing to do is to go make a living, rather than keep playing in college for free. And so the trend toward the top juniors heading to the NFL will only continue.

34 responses to “Senior Bowl executive thinks too many juniors enter the draft

  1. That is 30 more than a year ago. Which means that all of the team’s picks are roughly a round “better” than a year ago. Significant change. Everyone be trying to get extra picks.

  2. How dare those kids enter the NFL and deprive you of all that free labor you make millions on.

  3. Yea, because that rookie salary cap that was supposed to funnel more of that money to the veterans but has not is only making these players come out earlier, and now the NFL has a burgeoning problem like the NBA had when too many high school players went to the league despite not being ready. More of Goodell’s destruction of this league that you’ll look back on in 15-20 years and point to, which he got a healthy assist on by the buffoon Morris.

    R.IP. Gene Upshaw and wish Tagliabue had his job back, the league was in good hands with both of them.

  4. Why not get paid instead of playing for free another year and risk getting a serious injury…for what??? Take the money now.

    The new lower salary rookie rules make it a wiser choice. No more 40m contracts for rookie players, so staying in another year to take a beating isn’t worth it.

  5. Well, duh.

    Fact of the matter is, in the minds of a lot of NFL fans, the Senior Bowl players are 2nd tier prospects. The thinking being that if they were legit studs they would have come out before their final year.

  6. NCAA has milked the player pool for cash. Agents have milked the top juniors for future cash. NFL pays draftees the same whether they came out as juniors or seniors.

    Seems like the only ones losing out are the pro scouts and the Senior Bowl itself. The 4-year players (many of whom are NOT pro prospects) actually BENEFIT since there is less competition without the juniors who left last year or the ones who have declared this year.

    But that creates a problem for the scouts, who then have to actually EVALUATE talent, instead of simply drooling over can’t miss prospects. Their job is harder, and they are probably complaining to Senior Bowl officials like Savage.

    Best way to solve the bowl branding part might be to simply change the name to the “I’m taking my talents to the NFL!” Bowl (or something similar) and take seniors plus juniors who have declared.

  7. Its only an issue bc they wont makr more free money off juniors.. I wouldnt risk playig in a senior bowl and getting injured and lose millions bc some dbag thinks its bad the kids walk away from a free job to take a paid job

    These men have families and kids. How can u tell them focus one more yr off free football w chance to screw it up if u tear ur acl w bo reprisal?

    Pay college student athletes and issue will be solved.

  8. The NFL should develop a minor league system…one developmental team for each NFL team. There must be some unwritten agreement between them and the NCAA that it could never happen. As a guy who doesn’t really care about college football, id love to see something like that developed.

    Imagine how upset the NCAA would be if stud HS seniors were bypassing college altogether. Baseball does it….there has to be a way for the NFL to do it.

  9. Excuse me while I throw up a little at the college football “executive” who complains about players wanting to go pro and frames it as only looking out for everyone’s interests. Including the old warning about players not being “ready”.

  10. The issue isn’t the top guys coming out. It’s the marginal juniors that don’t make a team and then can’t return to school that he seems to be referring to, and that’s a valid concern.

    Do like baseball. If they don’t get an agent, and don’t like where they’re drafted, and have kept up with their classes, let them return to school.

  11. Technically, these guys are getting a free ride to school, which is actually getting paid, in a way. Im not making excuses for college football at all….these guys should be eligible, in an expanded draft, to be drafted when they are 18 years old. Like I suggested above though….youd probably need a developmental league in order to do that….OR, a hugely expanded roster and much larger cap.

  12. ya, 90 some come out early, usually in the 70s. Savage says that means 90 more people fighting for same amount of jobs. He fails to subtract the 73 who came out last year in his equation.
    if some one wants to play the numbers game, they should subtract the ones from last year that came out early against the ones that come out early this year. simple math

  13. OK, Phil, here are some possible solutions:

    1) Change the name of your game to the Futures Bowl, and let everyone that is a candidate for the NFL play in the game.

    2) Fix the broken college system. Pay the players a little, increase the waiting period from 3 to 4 years and possibly reinstitute the ban on true freshmen playing, that way you still have 3 years of film to evaluate.

    I’d choose option 1, letting every draft-eligible player in the game.

  14. That many unprepared players coming into the League has the NFL on the verge of becoming The NBA. A Star driven with more emphasis on Individual players as opposed to franchises.

  15. I can think of the scenario Savage is concerned about. Despite PFT putting Manziel’s picture on the story, Savage isnt’t talking about Johnny Football. He’s talking about the guys with 3rd-7th round grades coming out early.

    I remember a few years back ND running back Darius Walker left early after he was given a 3rd round grade by the “experts”. He went undrafted and never really caught on anywhere. No degree. No college eligibility. No pro career.

    Notre Dame brought him back to get a degree, but another year of college could have helped his draft stock and/or better prepared him to compete as an undrafted player.

    It isn’t the top tier guys who are the issue. It’s the 50 or so bottom guys out of that 100 early entrants.

  16. You don’t need the all-star games. Get rid of them. Set up regional combines, if you want to workout players. You have enough film on these guys in competition.

    I find it amusing that seniors are an afterthought. If you stay in school four years, something’s wrong with you. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing well in school or don’t need the NFL, it’s still your duty you come out. It’s selfish not to do so; you’re not only person affected by this.

  17. “Technically, these guys are getting a free ride to school, which is actually getting paid, in a way. ”

    Drink that Kool Aid much ?

  18. “I remember a few years back ND running back Darius Walker left early after he was given a 3rd round grade by the “experts”. He went undrafted and never really caught on anywhere. No degree. No college eligibility. No pro career.”

    I’m curious the number of players over, say, the last 10 years that have declared themselves eligible only to go undrafted.

  19. Most of these ‘Juniors’ are in their 4th year of college and some are either eligible to graduate this spring or already have.

    Because they were red shirted, they are not eligible for the senior bowl which seems stupid to me.

  20. It’s pretty simple really.

    All other things being equal, the kid who comes into the NFL at 20 or 21 is going to be that much more valuable to a GM than the kid who’s a rookie at 22 or 23 and the reason is shelf life. It might only be a difference in 2 years of age but if the two prospects have equivalent physical skills and are at the same age of psychological development, why wouldn’t you take the younger guy?

  21. If I was NFL commissioner for a day, one of my initiatives would be setting up a developmental league as an alternative to college football. Kids that want to train for a NFL career could do so while getting paid instead of laboring for the privilege of sitting through classes they may or may not give a rip about. Each team would have a player liaison to assist the kids with the basics of life as an adult, like paying rent, balancing a checkbook, etc.

    I bet a fair number of the 102 early entrees would bypass college altogether. And then colleges wouldn’t have to worry about the quality of their game being affected by early departures. They could even stop pretending to care about the kids that are fattening college bank accounts all over the country.

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