There’s not a lot of actual news that emerges from SEC Media Days. Or any media day for that matter. It’s usually just a good way for people to get people talking about that particular sport or event.
However on Thursday Nick Saban revealed a bit of news that Will Muschamp had hinted at earlier in the week, regarding the NFL’s evaluation of underclassmen.
In year’s past the league would tell players if they could go ‘as high’ as the first round, second round and third round. The other options were “not in the first three rounds” and not draftable.
Now change is coming from the NFL. Under the new system players will given a grade of either first round, second round, or neither. Schools will also only get five automatic evaluations for underclassmen, and will have to petition on an individual basis for extra evaluations (won’t be a problem for schools loaded with talent like FSU, Alabama and LSU).
“I know the NFL has expressed, or we read about some rules that we’re only going to be allowed to submit, and you need to check this out, but I just read it before I came over here, five players for junior grades because it’s getting overwhelming for them,” Saban said on Thursday.
NFL Network’s Albert Breer later confirmed Saban’s statement on Twitter.
FYI: Saban was correct. Per @NFL, underclassmen will now be given 3 grades: 1st-round, 2nd-round, or neither, which equals “stay in school”.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 17, 2014
NFL manual on non-1/2 grade: “they should remain a student-athlete maturing as a potential (NFL) prospect while continuing their education.” — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 17, 2014
The change comes the year after a record 98 underclassmen declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. 36 of those 98 players were not selected.
NFL Scouting consultant Chris Landry told the the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the change is indeed aimed at keeping players in school longer.
“By giving a player a first or second round grade or go back to school grade, the hope is to encourage more players to go back to school if they are not top two round worthy,” Landry told nola.com. “A player with a fourth round grade may not be drafted until the sixth or seventh due to the number of players with those grades. So, players are crushed and no option of playing college football any longer and very little chance of making a team.”
When discussing the old system Saban also brought up the fact that the later a player is drafted, the lower his chances are at signing that second contract. He hopes that players who now receive grades telling them to stay in school, will not only have a degree to fall back on, but that they’ll also be further developed once they enter the league than they would as early entries.
There are always going to be players who are physically gifted and have nothing left to prove at the college level after three years (looking at you Jameis Winston), but hopefully now more kids who would have been given a third round or later grade in previous years will choose to stay in school and develop more.
It’s a win-win for college football and the NFL. Schools will likely get back more juniors, and the NFL will have less work to do when it comes to evaluating underclassmen. Pro teams will also be getting a higher quantify of league-ready players, as they’ll have less underclassmen to develop.