With the Super Bowl just ending, and with the 2022 NFL Combine coming up, the 2023 draft process is actually starting soon as well. Starting in late February, NFL scouts from the two scouting services BLETSO and National will go into a school to do their junior evaluation they are looking to grade the NFL draft prospects for the next year’s draft but also to eliminate players as guys who can’t play in the NFL. The scouts give those players “not an NFL prospect” grades so scout in the fall don’t have to spend time on players who are deemed not a NFL players.
The scouting services grade over 13,000 senior college football players each year at all levels of football and normally there are around 600 with draft able or free-agent grades. True do players with “not an NFL prospect” grades get draft? Yes, but it is few and far between.
BLETSO and National have their spring meeting to go over grades around Labor Day time in May to be able to help set the scouts schedule for training camps visits in the summer. Prospects are not told what their spring grade is by the two scouting services, but normally in the summer the grades get out and agents, financial advisors, media members and all-star games get their hands on them.
What goes into a spring grade:
Height/Weight/Speed – The scouts either get that information when on campus when the measure and weigh the prospect as well as get hand size and arm length. Some school will allow the prospects to run the 40 for the scouts but that is very few and mainly smaller schools. Some schools don’t allow scouts to do height/weight so the scout will just have to estimate the prospect height/weight/40 time.
Background – Scouts will try to get information on prospect past both off the field and medical.
Spring grades are important for several reasons:
1. It is a road map for NFL scouts in the fall to where they should spend their most time.
2. National Scouting runs the NFL Combine so if a player has a good spring grade he is more likely to get invited then if he doesn’t.
3. All-Star games try to get their hands on these grades and use them when they start to invite players to their games.
True as a Senior what you do on the field is most import to your final NFL draft grade, but it doesn’t hurt to start with a good spring grade going into your Senior season.
1 Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – Everyone had him as a # 1 pick in the spring of 2020 and even before that. Most people thought he was going to be the #1 pick when they saw him as a true freshman at Clemson spring game before his freshman year even started.
2 New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, BYU – No one had Wilson as a 1st round pick in the spring of 2020 and even BYU did not know if he was even going to start.
3 San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State – Lance was a hot QB coming off his 2019 season, and many thought he was a 1st round QB but not a Top 5 player.
4 Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida – In the spring of 2020 many had Pitts as a 1st round pick, just not a top 5 player.
5 Cincinnati Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU – Because of Chase great 2019 season many had him as a Top 5 player in the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020 and end up going there.
6 Miami Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – Waddle was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
7 Detroit Lions: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon – Sewell was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
8 Carolina Panthers: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina – In the spring of 2020 no one was talking about Horn as a 1st round pick, he was coming off a decent season in 2019, but no one thought he was a 1st rounder, let alone a top 10 pick.
9 Denver Broncos: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama – Surtain was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
10 Philadelphia Eagles: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama – Smith was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
11 Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State – Fields was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and some even had him as high as projected as the #2 overall player and 2nd QB drafted.
12 Dallas Cowboys: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State – Parson was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
13 Los Angeles Chargers: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern – Slater had one of the higher grades in the spring by the NFL scouting services and was projected as a 1st round grade and end up opting out of the 2020 season.
14 New York Jets: OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC – In the spring of 2020 Vera-Tucker was coming off a particularly good sophomore season in 2019 playing at left guard, but was not projected as a 1st round pick, but showed versatility playing left tackle in 2020 and that help him move up team boards.
15 New England Patriots: QB Mac Jones, Alabama – Jones started at the end the 2019 season but there was no guarantee he would be the starter in 2020 and no one had him as a 1st round graded player. His outstanding 2020 season but him in places to be in the 1st round.
16 Arizona Cardinals: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa – In the spring of 2020 no one had Collins as 1st round grade, he was coming off a nice 2019 season but blew up in 2020 winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik award, and was the Lombardi Award winner.
17 Las Vegas Raiders: OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama – No one projected Leatherwood to be a 1st round pick in the spring of 2020 or even in the spring of 2020, in fact many teams had him as a 3rd round prospect in the spring of 2020.
18 Miami Dolphins: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL) – In the spring of 2020 many people did not think Phillips would be even playing college football, yet alone be a 1st round draft pick.
19 Washington Football Team: LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky – In the spring of 2020 no one thought Davis would be a 1st round, even after declaring after the 2020 season many people had him projected as a 3rd round pick.
20 New York Giants: WR Kadarius Toney, Florida – Many scouts in the spring of 2020 had Toney with a 5th round grade but had an outstanding 2020 season pushing him up teams’ boards.
21 Indianapolis Colts: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan – Paye in the spring of 2020 was thought of as a high 2nd round prospect.
22 Tennessee Titans: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech – Farley was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
23 Minnesota Vikings: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech – In the spring of 2020 Darrisaw was not projected as a 1st round pick but was coming off an exceptionally good sophomore season and many had him projected as most likely a top 100 prospect.
24 Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris, Alabama – Harris in the the spring of 2020 was thought of as a high 2nd round prospect.
25 Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson – Etienne was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020.
26 Cleveland Browns: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern – In the spring of 2020 Newsome was not projected as a 1st round pick. His sophomore season was good where he ranked 2nd in the Big 10 in pass break-ups but had an outstanding 2020 season to help make him a 1st round pick.
27 Baltimore Ravens: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – Bateman was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and some had him as high as a top 10 pick.
28 New Orleans Saints: DE Payton Turner, Houston – Turner in the spring of 2020 was graded by many scouts as an undrafted free-agent. His outstanding 2020 season along with him play at the Senior Bowl helped him be a 1st round pick.
29 Green Bay Packers: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia – In the spring of 2020 was not projected as a 1st round pick and even many mock drafts right before the 2021 NFL Draft no one had him projected to get drafted in the 1st round. He did a have an exceptionally good 2020 season and during the pre-draft process tested very well.
30 Buffalo Bills: DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL) – Rousseau was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and many had him as a top 10 pick.
31 Baltimore Ravens: DE Odafe Oweh, Penn State – In the spring of 2020 Oweh was not projected as a 1st round pick, and even had more production on the field in 2019 vs 2020 but him Pro Day he tested very well and showed he had elite traits and that help make him a 1st round pick.
32Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Joe Tryon, Washington – In the spring of 2020 Tryon was not projected a 1st round pick. He showed enough in 2019 season that was on the radar and many people had him projected as being a Top 100 prospect and was able to move in the first round as scouts went and review the 2019 season and his pre-draft process.
A lot of people believe that the NFL Draft is made up of the Power 5 college football conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC & Pac-12) in college football but that is not totally the case. If we take a look at the past 5 NFL Draft we see that there are a good amount of draft picks that come from other levels of college football.
2021 NFL Draft (259 picks):
49 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (18.9%)
4 of those 49 Non-FBS
New York Jets QB Zach Wilson, BYU – 1st round 2nd overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
Denver Broncos C Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (D3)- 3rd round 98th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.
2020 NFL Draft (255 picks):
58 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (22.7%)
9 of those 53 Non-FBS
Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love, Utah State – 1st round 26th overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
New England Patriots Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne- 2nd round 37th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.
2019 NFL Draft (254 picks):
53 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (20.8%)
16 of those 53 Non-FBS
Buffalo Bills DT Ed Oliver, Houston – 1st round 9th overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
Houston Texans OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State- 1st round 23rd overall was earlies Non-FBS pick.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert – 2nd round 49th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.
2017 NFL Draft (253 picks):
43 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (16.9%)
15 of those 43 Non-FBS
Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan – 1st round 5thoverall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
Chicago Bears TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland – 2nd round 45th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.
2016 NFL Draft (253 picks):
57 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (22.5%)
20 of those 57 Non-FBS
Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State -1st round 2nd overall was earliest Non-Power 5 and Non-FBS pick.
So just remember if you are in a Power 5 conference there are other guys looking to get drafted just as high as you are and if you are not in a Power 5 conference it doesn’t matter if you can play football the NFL will find you
Because of Covid-19 the NCAA gave each college football player an extra year of eligibility if they wanted to use it. So if they where scheduled to be in their senior year and if they played or didn’t play they still got an extra year of eligibility. But like NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the NFL wanted the prospects to fill out a document if they where going to use that extra year so they didn’t have them in the 2021 NFL Draft classes.
Here is his tweet.
Below is the document prospects need to fill out so they can let the NFL know that they will not be in the 2021 NFL Draft but will be in the 2022 NFL Draft. The NFL office said that this was sent out to college’s as well.
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.
One thing that goes on in the spring that NFL fans don’t pay to much attention to is NFL scouts from the two NFL scouting services, BLETSO and National Football Scouting go on college campuses and doing what is called “junior days”. “Junior Days” are where scouts will get the players height, weight, some schools will allow guys to run 40s and the scouts will grade the film of the players that will be Seniors in the fall and give them what is called a “Spring Grade”.
Then around Memorial Day the two Scouting Services and all the NFL
scouts that subscribed to either of those services will get together for a long
weekend normally in Florida and read the spring reports and go over the “Spring
Grades”. These grades become the road
map of the scouts in the summer and fall to evaluate the next class of NFL
prospects for the following spring draft.
Because of what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, many “juniors days”
won’t happen so scouts won’t have information on those prospects leaving
information need to make up “spring grades” unavailable.
Talking with multiple scouts the “Spring Grades” for the 2021 NFL Draft will either just not happen or be delayed and it will affect how the NFL teams do their business this upcoming fall and leading into next years NFL Draft. The reason why “Spring Grades” play such a big role is because of the two scouting services that the NFL uses, National Football Scouting (NFS) is the company that actually runs the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. They take their “spring grades” as the starting point for the invites to the NFL Combine that following January.
Even though “spring grades” are not made public and are suppose to remain proprietary the grades get out and agents, trainers, financial advisors, all-star games all try to get their hands on them to be able to make best decision on who to go after.
Yes the COVID-19 pandemic is going to effect the 2020 NFL Draft with Pro Days, Top-30 Visits and work-outs canceled but is already effecting the 2021 Draft as well.
True, there is much bigger problems with the COVID-19 pandemic but just
something else that it is impacting.