East-West Shrine Bowl Canceled – What that means for 2021 NFL Draft Prospects

Yesterday the East-West Shrine Bowl canceled their 2021 all-star game, because of Covid-19 concerns. 

The annual college football all-star game, the oldest event of its kind which goes back to 1925 was scheduled to be played on January 23 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  From last season’s game there is 98 players on NFL rosters who played on it. 

Because of this there will be one less post-season all-star game for prospects to go to and there is rumors that the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will not be played either.  The Senior Bowl has said they are still planning on going forward with their event, but it will be something to watch.

All-Star games are especially important for prospects in many ways – Here are some:

  1. Small School or Non-Power 5 prospects get to show NFL scouts that they can play against the best level of competition.
  2. NFL Scouts get to see the prospects go one-on-one and can use this as particularly good evaluation tool.  
  3. NFL Scouts get true measurements (Height/Weight) on a prospect if were allowed to get the spring before Senior season.
  4. NFL Scouts get more time to interview and interact with prospect to help with the overall evaluation.

Countless amount of prospect has raised their draft stock at all-star games or even got on NFL scouts’ radar at an All-Star event, so it is an especially important part of the process that this year could not be happing. 

This could be another factor why some prospects use the NCAA extra year of eligibility and plan to be in the 2022 NFL Draft not the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. 

How Covid-19 is Impacting the 2021 NFL Draft Post-Season Process

Because of Covid-19 the NCAA has given each player this year another year of eligibility, which on the surface sounds great but it does come with some complications with the NFL Draft process, unless the NFL changes it rules. 

  1. All players will have college eligibility left, because of that any player that wants to be included in the 2021 NFL Draft must declare for the draft by the declare deadline (which normally is around January 15th)
  2. Because all players will have to declare and NFL scouts can’t interact with “underclassmen” (or players with NCAA eligibility left) until after the declare date.  All-Star games like the College Gridiron Showcase, Tropical Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all normally being before the declare date so no scouts would be able to attended until after the declare date unless the NFL changes their rules for this year.
  3. NFL Combine Invites normally sent out to Senior prospects after the teams bowl game will not be sent out because the NFL Combine won’t for sure know who is not going back to school so they will have to wait until after the declare date to send out invites.
  4. What will be the Covid-19 protocols with the All-Star games, NFL Combine, and Pro Days.  Because of possible protocol issues these events could be different. 
  5. With the FCS Spring Schedule being released now anyone that would play in that full schedule and not declare for the draft they would not be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft unless the NFL changes the rules.
  6. Now all college players will have to decide to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft or play in the 2021 College Football season when everyone hopes we are back to normal and be in the 2022 NFL Draft.  

With Fall Football Canceled many 2021 NFL Draft Prospect – Should Look to the 2022 NFL Draft

With the majority of college football being canceled for the 2020 fall season due to COVID-19 concerns many players with the hope to play in the NFL should be looking to the 2022 NFL Draft not the 2021 NFL Draft, here is why.

  1. NCAA Council recommends eligibility relief for athletes who opt out and that would allow football players to retain their eligibility.  So a prospect could opt out of the spring football schedule if school goes ahead with it and then have their eligibility for fall of 2021.
  2. With the SEC, Big 12, ACC, AAC, C-USA & Sun Belt all moving forward with a fall season the NFL will not move the NFL Draft and keep it in April 2021. Also with that being said if the NFL Draft keeps it schedule then most likely the NFL Combine keeps it schedule in late February.
  3. 80% of NFL Grade is based on film and if a prospect 2019 film had him a high draftable prospect the player most likely would have declared if he could have.  Now the top graded players who where sophomore last year and not eligible will declare for the 2020 NFL Draft and should. The two scouting services the NFL uses (BLETSO & National) still did give out spring grades this spring.
  4.  No benefit of playing in the Spring if prospect would burn eligible and the NFL keeps it draft in April of 2021. Also prospects shouldn’t want to play in the spring risk injury or just beating up body and then turn around and play in the fall of 2021.
  5. Prospect can use this full year to get bigger, stronger, faster and better at his skill set.  Prospect can also lock in on school finish up and then have nothing to worry about but football in fall of 2021. 

Yes each prospects situation is different but the prospect should want to do whatever gives him the best chance to be successful and get the best opportunity for the NFL Draft.  

College2Pro.com Owner & Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) Scout Bo Marchionte

Check out the Pod Cast Interview with College2Pro.com Owner & Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) Scout Bo Marchionte to learn more about the NFL Draft process and the CFL Scouting Process.

https://anchor.fm/justin-vanfulpen/episodes/College2Pro-com-Owner–Winnipeg-Blue-Bomber-CFL-Scout-Bo-Marchionte-efje89

Things NFL Draft Prospects can do to improve draft odds due to COVID-19

I have received questions from players on what they can do since the 2021 NFL Draft process was interrupted due to COVID-19.  Many senior prospects didn’t have a “Junior Day” because campus where shut down before BLETSO or National Football scouts, the two scouting services the NFL uses, could get on campus. 

1.       Get your own measurements – As we saw before the 2020 NFL Draft, guys did their own Pro Day testing, so that scouts could get the information.  If you are able to do your own height/weight/40, etc, you should do it, and be honest about everything.  Even if one scouts get that information, see it on Twitter, You Tube, etc there are advantages.  One they might do more research on you as a player and make sure they keep an eye on you.  Two they will see you are serious about football and the next level process. Three you will know where you are at and how you can improve before the NFL combine, or your Pro Day in 2021.  If you are not on the mock draft projected as a 1st round pick, you can use all the help you can get, especially if you are not from a Power 5 conference school.    

2.       Check Your Eligibility – With COVID-19 and schools going to online classes, some school grading has been changed from normal grade scales.  But if a prospect is not going to be eligible in the fall, he would want to look into the NFL Supplemental Draft process.  The NFL has said it will not change the requirements for the Supplemental Draft due to COVID-19, so there isn’t expected to be a higher number of players allowed in it, but something to check out to make sure you know where you are.

3.       Thinking about Transferring –  There is a possibility that some school will remain online in the fall and because of that the prospect of playing football in the fall would remain unlikely.  The California State University system plans to move forward with virtual classes through the fall semester, and we could see other follow the same thought process. Since transferring down a level (FCS, D2, D3) doesn’t require you to sit out even if you haven’t graduated, for your NFL dreams it will be better to play this season and get film that not getting any film at all and hoping for the best.

4.       Make Sure To Stay in Shape – When/If you get back to being able to go to the school facility you want to make sure you are ready to go.  

NFL “Spring Grades” and the Impact on them due to COVID-19

S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir- Rhyne at the Senior Bowl

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of summer, people normally will get together to BBQ and spend time with family and friends.  It is also normally the official kick-off to the next years NFL Draft scouting process where the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) have their annual meetings in Florida to read their spring grades on the upcoming senior prospects and go over the information that was gathered in the late winter/early spring at “Junior Days” on college campuses.  Which this year due to COVID-19 those “Junior Days” did not happen.  You might ask why does this even matter – I give you S Kyle Dugger.  This time last year most of the football world did not even know who Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne was.  In the 2020 NFL Draft he was the 37th player drafted, the second safety drafted, and the New England Patriots first pick in the draft. 

The last player drafted out of Lenoir-Rhyne was DL John Milem in the 5th round in 2000 by the San Fransico 49ers who played 20 games in the NFL in his career, and before Dugger was Lenoir-Rhyne highest player drafted ever.   So not a hot bed of NFL talent when it comes to Lenoir-Rhyne history, which if you are wondering the school is in Hickory, North Carolina. 

But that is why Junior Days are so import for small school prospects to be able to get on the radar for NFL teams, as well as the NFL Combine and All-Star games like the Senior Bowl in which Duger went to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.   Last spring when BLETSO and National scouts came to Lenoir-Rhyne and did what they normal do with all Senior prospects a school has, getting their height/weight/arm length/hand size as well as some schools allow guys to run the 40.  This past spring Duger was 6005/218 and ran a verified 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.  So with his Junior film and his verified measurements both scouting services gave him a high grade but not close to a grade where he got drafted, but it got him on the radar to get invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine both hugely important for a small school prospect like him.     At the NFL Combine he was 6007/217 and ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, not too much different from his spring numbers.

Without “Junior Days” this year because of COVID – 19 it will be harder for people to identify this year’s Kyle Duger.       

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy Tweet trying to identify next Kyle Dugger

This Memorial Day weekend both BLETSO and National will still hold their “Spring Grade” meeting but after talking with scouts it will be over Zoom instead of in person like normal.  But without “Junior Days” small school prospects will have a harder time then in the past to be truly evaluated and get a legitimate opportunity.  

The grades are just a road map for scouts as we have seen in the past 3 seasons all three number one overall picks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray & Joe Burrow) have come basically out of nowhere since all of them had less then a 4th round grade going into the season when their last season started.   But it is a road map that is need as their are thousands of college football seniors, and the “Spring grades” not only identify who to evaluate but also who the scouts doesn’t need to spend their time evaluating.

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position (2020-2016)

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books here is the average amount of players drafted at each position over the past 5 years (2016-2020) and the highs and lows.

QB – Average amount drafted – 12.4 – High amount drafted 15 (2016) Low amount drafted 10 (2017)

RB– Average amount drafted – 21.8 – High amount drafted 26 (2017) Low amount drafted 18 (2020)

FB – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 3 (2016) Low amount drafted 0 (2020)

WR – Average amount drafted – 32.2 – High amount drafted 35 (2020) Low amount drafted 28 (2019)

TE – Average amount drafted – 13.0 – High amount drafted 16 (2019) Low amount drafted 9 (2016)

OT – Average amount drafted – 20.0 – High amount drafted 23 (2019) Low amount drafted 16 (2017)

OG – Average amount drafted – 12.6 – High amount drafted 18 (2020) Low amount drafted 10 (2018)

C – Average amount drafted – 7.2 – High amount drafted 9 (2020) Low amount drafted 5 (2019)

DE – Average amount drafted – 21.6 – High amount drafted 26 (2019) Low amount drafted 17 (2020, 2016)

DT – Average amount drafted – 20.6 – High amount drafted 22 (2016) Low amount drafted 20 (2020, 2018, 2017)

LB – Average amount drafted – 34.8 – High amount drafted 39 (2018, 2020) Low amount drafted 28 (2017)

CB – Average amount drafted – 30.8 – High amount drafted 34 (2017) Low amount drafted 27 (2020)

S – Average amount drafted – 20.2 – High amount drafted 23 (2017) Low amount drafted 19 (2019, 2018)

K – Average amount drafted – 2.2– High amount drafted 3 (2017, 2020) Low amount drafted 1 (2016)

P – Average amount drafted – 2.2 – High amount drafted 4 (2018) Low amount drafted 0 (2017)

2020 NFL Draft: Senior vs Underclassmen Break-Down

Here is the breakdown for the 2020 NFL Draft between Senior and Underclassmen drafted.

Round by Round:

1st round (32 picks) – Seniors: 9 (28.1%) – Underclassmen: 23 (71.8%)

2nd round (32 picks) – Seniors: 15 (46.8%) – Underclassmen: 17 (53.2%)

3rd round (42 picks) – Seniors: 34 (80.9%) – Underclassmen: 8 (19.0%)

4th round (40 picks) – Seniors: 28 (70.0%) – Underclassmen: 12 (30.0%)

5th round (33 picks) – Seniors: 26 (78.7%) – Underclassmen: 7 (21.2%)

6th round (35 picks) – Seniors: 31 (88.5%) – Underclassmen: 4 (11.4%)

7th round (41 picks) – Seniors: 37 (90.2%) – Underclassmen: 4 (9.7%)

Other Notes:

Top 25 Picks: Seniors: 6 (28.0%) – Underclassmen: 19 (72.0%)

Top 50 Picks: Seniors: 15 (42.0%) – Underclassmen: 35 (58.0%)

Top 100 Picks: Seniors: 51 (50.0%) – Underclassmen: 49 (50.0%)

Top 150 Picks: Seniors: 94 (62.6%) – Underclassmen: 56 (37.3%)