While it’s not quite the lofty underclassman combine we heard over the summer was being discussed, next year will bring expanded scouting for future draft picks.
The NFL and American Football Coaches’ Association agreed to a setup that will allow NFL scouts to do some advanced work on prospects whom schools deem bound for future NFL drafts. Starting in February 2017, Division I-FBS schools will be able to select five underclassmen whom they categorize as possible 2018 selections. These players will be able to test and work out for scouts at their schools’ pro days during the spring.
Schools can request more underclassmen be available to work out for scouts at pro days designed for that year’s seniors and declared early-entry prospects, provided the NFL determines they are, in fact, potential draft commodities down the line. This will allow teams to gather more data on prospects as they determine future values, Chase Goodbread of NFL.com writes. The prospects who will be granted access to pro days are not eligible to enter that year’s draft, but instead this is only to help teams and players for the future.
“While there is no question that obtaining a college degree is a transformative experience for so many people in society and a goal to which we encourage everyone to aspire to, for those talented few individuals that have the ability to succeed in the NFL prior to exhausting their college football eligibility, this new agreement will ensure they have better information with which to make their decision,” NFL executive VP Troy Vincent said.
Both Urban Meyer and Nick Saban advocated this summer for advanced scouting regarding underclassmen in an effort to provide them better understanding of their draft status for when they become draft-eligible or decide to enter. As it stands now, underclassmen apply for feedback from the NFL college advisory committee in December and usually receive it in January, per Goodbread. For the players who receive the benefit of working out for scouts a year early, they should have more to go on when making their decision in advance of the next draft.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.