USA Today Sports

​NFL scouts to have greater access to underclassmen

NFL scouts will have greater access to underclassmen well before they apply for eligibility for the NFL draft.

An agreement between the American Football Coaches Association and the National Football League will give NFL scouts greater access to college underclassmen playing football.

The goal of the agreement that starts in February 2017 is to get NFL scouts more background information on a potential draft pick long before that college player applies for the draft. By having that information on a prospect earlier, the NFL College Advisory Committee should be able provide a more informed evaluation of the player’s draft potential.

“While there is no question that obtaining a college degree is a transformative experience for so many people in society and a goal to which we encourage everyone to aspire to, for those talented few individuals that have the ability to succeed in the NFL prior to exhausting their college football eligibility, this new agreement will ensure they have better information with which to make their decision,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said in a release announcing the agreement. “We appreciate the efforts of our partners at the AFCA in making this new agreement a reality.”

The agreement would put underclassmen prospects in front of NFL scouts more than a year in advance of their potential draft year.

Beginning in February, each NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school can designate up to five underclassmen who may apply for special eligibility for the 2018 Draft to be permitted additional scouting. Those players can be timed, tested and interviewed prior to their 2017 college seasons at the school’s senior pro day for 2017 draft-eligible players. FBS schools may request the ability to designate more than five players, subject to the determination of the NFL that the players are legitimate draft prospects.

NFL clubs will also be permitted to inquire about and scout these players throughout the 2017 season as though they were seniors in their final season of college football eligibility.  There is no limit to the number of underclassmen from an individual school that may petition for special eligibility for the draft.

The idea is that the NFL Draft Advisory Committee would be able to make a better recommendation on if the prospect is a legitimate draft candidate and, if so, approximately which round he might expect to be drafted the following year. It could cut down on the number of underclassmen who apply for draft eligibility but find themselves undrafted, thereby giving them another year in college to develop their skills if they elect to return.

The committee is comprised of senior personnel evaluators from NFL clubs, along with directors from the league’s two sanctioned scouting organizations – National Football Scouting and BLESTO.

The number of underclassmen granted eligibility for the NFL draft has been on the rise in recent years, with 107 in 2016. However, 30 of them were left undrafted.

“On behalf of the AFCA, I would like to thank our committee of collegiate coaches and the NFL for working diligently over the last several months to assist our student-athletes,” said AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry.  “This opportunity will allow our student-athletes to make better and more informed decisions.  This continues to show the commitment and cooperation of both entities to solve issues relating to this major decision.” 

Scout NFL Network Top Stories