Number of Underclassmen Seeking NFL Draft Evaluation Dropped Dramatically

By Jason Lisk

The number of college football underclassmen seeking an evaluation from the Draft Advisory Committee has dropped dramatically since last year’s record numbers.

(We await word on whether Vincent had authority to make such statements)

The deadline for requesting an evaluation was Monday, December 15th, but it is more of a soft deadline, so that number could rise slightly. The NFL’s Draft Advisory Board will provide an evaluation on all requests that came in by Monday, and will do others that come in after that date as they are able to, but an assessment is not guaranteed if it comes in now.

Last January, I detailed the Draft Advisory Board and the work they did to provide the early entrants with evaluations. The stated reason for starting the board was to provide more informed evaluations so players would not have to rely on outside sources that may not be fairly assessing the prospects.

However, recent changes that were installed before the season may change that. Back in July, news came out that the Draft Advisory Board was changing its evaluations to only now release assessments that a player could be drafted in the first round, in the second round, or should return to school. Previously, the categories also included advising that they could be drafted as high as the third round; that they could be drafted, but not in the first three rounds; or that they would not be drafted.

The other change was that a limit was placed on each school (the evaluations are submitted through the schools) of five players each year, which could only be expanded if the school sought a specific waiver. Don’t you think that the school limit affected these numbers?

So just because the number of people requesting an evaluation has dropped, does not mean the actual number of early entrants will, at least as dramatically. Most of the players who were undrafted last year as early entrants either did not seek an evaluation from the Draft Advisory Board, ignored the (more specific) recommendation, or relied on a previous evaluation from an earlier year, prior to injuries and poor performance. Many of the entrants, also, who go early while having a slim chance of getting drafted do so because of legal or disciplinary issues–in other words, they might be out of the program anyway.

Making a value judgment that only being drafted in the top two rounds is worthy of going professional may not match the reality for many players. There is a vast difference between being a fourth round pick, and someone who has very little chance of ever making a NFL roster. Just look at this year. In addition to all the early picks, underclassmen like Martavis Bryant, Tre Mason, Alfred Blue, Bashaud Breeland, De’Anthony Thomas, Cameron Fleming, Aaron Lynch, Richard Rodgers, Terrance West and Jarvis Landry have all been contributors as guys drafted outside the first two rounds.

Should they get the same designation as someone who has no chance to make a roster? Or should they be given better information?

Most importantly, if they are not going to be given that evaluation from the Draft Advisory Board, players who are hearing they could get drafted, but are not likely to be top picks, may just declare without seeking advice.

We’ll see how it turns out, but while requests are down, we’ll find out in a month whether that was a function of the structure that is limiting requests and the specificity of information, or an actual downturn in the number of underclassmen ready to move on and start getting paid to play football.