When you are thinking about declaring early – Remember Joe Burrow!

Because of Covid-19 the NCAA is giving all college football players an extra year of eligibility.  All circumstances are different but if you are not a Top 150 graded guy by the NFL you really need to think about going back and taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility.  If you haven’t played this season like D2 and FCS you need to even think extra hard about going back.  We have seen the East-West Shrine Game canceled the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl canceled.  There is no guarantee that the NFL Combine or Pro Day’s will happen this year or if they do take place, how they will be run.   Last year we saw in the middle of the Pro Day schedule all Pro Day’s were canceled.    

Think about Joe Burrow, after the 2018 season he could have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft and came out early.  He was the full-time starter at LSU, played a full season did not have to worry about Covid-19 and any issues dealing with that.     

Joe Burrow had a 6th round grade at that time and let’s say he would have been drafted in the 6th round.  He would have been guaranteed around $130,000, but he went back to school raised his draft stock and was the 1st pick in the drafted and was guaranteed $36,190,136.  So, going back to school he made $36 Million dollars, because of his play on the field. 

If you are a player and not a Top 150 pick you have to think long and hard about going back to school to improve your stock and give you self the best possible chance to make it in the NFL.  The expectation is that next year things should be back to normal, we will for sure have the full schedule of all-star games, as well as going back to the normal pre-draft schedule.   So when you are looking to make a decision look at the long term play not just the short term when it comes to your future as a football player!

Non-Playing Things That Can Help/Hurt a NFL Prospect

It’s true. In the NFL, it comes down to whether you can play the game at a very high level or not and the phrase, “the eye in the sky, don’t lie,” still holds true. While there are many things that a player has no control over, there are numerous other variables that a player can choose to do, in order to make him a more attractive prospect to NFL teams, which has nothing to do with his overall skill-set. Let’s take a look:

Effort/Hustle – Going 100% on every play doesn’t have anything to do with skill.  Having a high motor, giving hustle and effort on every play is viewed as a positive and is something that a player can control. Remember, scouts and coaches are not just watching highlight tapes, they are watching full games to see what you do on every single snap.

Football IQ – Film study, knowledge of your opponent, understanding tendencies, knowing your scheme and the purpose of each play, knowledge of the rules, all of these elements have entirely nothing to do with how you play.

Accepting Coaching – Remember, scouts are going to talk to coaches about prospects, from the head coach down to the grad assistant. Most coaches are going to shoot scouts straight and be honest, their reputation weighs in the balance. So, if the prospect is willing to accept coaching and embraces what is asked of him by the staff, he will leave a positive impression behind, which will get relayed to the NFL teams.

Failed Drug Test – As a player, you might not think that this is a big deal but it is something that can hurt you with NFL teams and is something that as player, you have total control over.

Domestic Violence/ Violence against Women – There are many documented cases that have significantly damages a player’s draft stock. One of the more recent incidents involved running back Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals). Despite that the altercation transpired several years prior to him entering the NFL Draft, several teams removed him from their draft board entirely. He was selected lower than what his draft grade would’ve been, had it been based solely on film.

Association – When NFL teams are doing their due diligence investigating a player’s background, they’re interested in who the player hangs out with off the field and whether any of these people present red flags. The phrase ‘guilty by association’ is often used by scouts if he feels that his surrounding clique could rub off in a negative way and result in bad decisions.

Social Media – Monitoring and reviewing social media pages has become a big part of the player evaluation process in recent years. Scouts are looking to see what the prospect is posting on these platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram).  They are looking for whether the player is posting about football or could there be some red flags involved, such as mentions of guns, violence, drugs or alcohol, etc.?

Work Ethic – As a prospect, teams want to know, are you a hard worker in the weight room, on the practice field, in the class room? These are all things that a player can dictate. One of the most important resources to a NFL scout is the strength and conditioning coach. Scouts are going to ask does this prospect show up for work outs, does he do extra, do you have to push him to give effort?

Medical – This is one that a prospect doesn’t have much control over. In football, injuries happen and they can have an impact on a player’s draft grade. What a prospect does when he endures an injury, how does he attack the rehab and what cautionary steps are taken to prevent re-injury are all questions that NFL scouts will seek answers to when they evaluate a player.

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)