Declaring early for NFL Draft – Is it worth the risk?

By Justin VanFulpen

This time of the year in college football, the mock drafts start coming out and people start talking about what players will declare early. But just because some on the internet is saying that this player should declare early or someone close to the player telling him that he should leave school early might not know all the facts.

1. NFL Scouts weren’t allowed to scout underclassmen, until this season when the rule was changed. But with this rule change this year with the new agreement with the AFCA and NFL that took effect, where school gave the scout a list of 5 possible players that could declare that they were allowed to get info on. Scouts do look at the guys that they know for sure will be coming out early, but their main focus is the senior prospects. The underclassmen that aren’t general accepted as a 1st round pick there is rarely any work done on them during the season.

2. Underclassmen aren’t allowed at post season all-star games. 6 years ago with the NFLPA started the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl they were going to challenge the NFL rule and did allow one underclassmen in the game. That caused the NFL teams not to send a single scout to that all-star game. Because of that the NFLPA has only allowed seniors in their all-star game for then on. As we saw in the 2013 NFL Draft All-Star games are a big part of the process where OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan went from a late first rounder all the way up to the number one overall pick because of his play at the Senior Bowl.

3. NFL Combine – First official time NFL scouts can talk to underclassmen. Just because a prospect has declared early doesn’t automatically get him an invite to the NFL combine. So if a prospect is not invited then really the first time a scout get to talk with a prospect is at his school Pro Day.

4. NFL Draft Advisory Board – The board is composed of general managers and personnel directors from a number of NFL teams, along with the directors of the NFL’s two scouting combines, BLESTO and National. A prospect can ask for their assessment on where he is projected to get drafted. The board will return their assessment of the prospect with three possible grades – first round, second round, or neither, which means that the board advises the player to stay in school. The school can get a hold of the NFL Draft Advisory Board or the prospect can contact the NFL Player Personnel Department directly.

5. The 2017 NFL Draft included 95 underclassmen and another eight who entered the draft having earned a degree but still with NCAA playing eligibility. 67 underclassmen were drafted, leaving 28 (30 percent) not drafted. The 2016 NFL Draft 30 of 96 underclassmen were not chosen (31 percent).
Every prospects situation is different when thinking about declaring early for the NFL Draft but each prospect should get as much information as possible in regards to leaving school early for the NFL Draft.

Impact of Social Media and NFL Draft Prospects

By Justin VanFulpen

In the past few years social media has exploded and more and more corporate America is reviewing candidates for jobs social media profiles and making hiring decisions based on what they find on someone’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. This has now made its way to the NFL Draft process and it is something some NFL teams are taking to a scientific measurable level.

NFL teams are creating a “social media profile” on NFL draft prospects as well as their regular football profile that included football skills on film, medical and character. This social media profile is looking to see what the prospects are tweeting about, what they are posting, etc. Things that they are looking for is how much does the prospect post something about football? Are there posts about drugs, weapons, or alcohol? Does the prospect post things degrading women? Some NFL teams will use pie graphs to show the percentage of things that the prospect posts about.

How far are NFL teams going back to research? Well one NFL team that I talked to said that they looked all the way back at a tweet QB Jameis Winston had tweeted in high school. Yes, high school.

“Our job now as scouts is not just see if the guy can play but every aspect of his life and that now includes his social media and what he post, as what his post is most likely what is important to him as a person. We are now taking it to a level of measuring that.” said one NFL scout.

As we saw play out with former Ole Miss and current Miami Dolphins OT Laremy Tunsil social media was hacked and a video and screen shot of texts were posted.  Tunsil’s fall from the draft’s projected No. 3 pick to No. 13 cost him at least $10 million in guaranteed signing bonuses.  True Tunsil’s social media profiles we hacked by what was believed someone who Tunsil had given access to his profiles in the past.

With this social media analytics and data what NFL teams are trying to find out is, one does the prospect love football and two is he a good guy and can we trust him. Everyone need to know what they post on social media could be viewed differently by different people. True what someone post on social media doesn’t give the full picture but it is a tool that NFL teams are trying to use to make better personal decisions.

Social media can be used for positives things like building one’s brand, marketing, engaging with fans, supporting causes and much more but it can have a negative effect as well and once something is posted it can’t be taken back even if deleted because with the notoriety someone will screen shot it and it will live on.

 

Breakdown of what NFL Draft Grades are made up of per NFL Scouts

By Justin VanFulpen

Film (80%) – Your level of competition and how you played against the best level of competition you faced that year.  Each NFL team will view around 3 full games of your current season normally against who is the best competition. This also includes if a prospect plays in any of the college football all-star games.

Athletic Numbers (10%) – Height, Weight, Speed.  Teams are looking at the film first and then see if the prospect checks off the box in the athletic numbers per the position.

Injury History/Off Field/Football IQ (10%) –  Any major injuries, anything major off the field, love of the game, film study.  Scouts are check social media, talking to high school coaches, strength coaches, academic advisors, current coaches as they try to find out as much information on the prospect on and off the field.