The past two NFL Drafts have seen 191 underclassmen declare they are going to leave school early, with 54 underclassmen going undrafted.
Monday, the NFL and American Football Coaching Association announced an agreement in place which would allow NFL coaches extended contact with some underclassmen.
Highlighted in the agreement is the notion that college coaches can nominate five underclassmen players which will receive “enhanced contact” with NFL coaches and scouts, which would be similar to how the NFL handles draft eligible seniors.
More prominent and successful programs, such as an Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan, can apply for more underclassmen to be nominated in order to receive more contact with professional scouts and coaches.
With more contact between underclassmen players and NFL coaches, this would allow prominent underclassmen to have the same draft evaluation resources available at their hands as a senior would, and allow the underclassmen players to see where their draft projections lie and make a decision on their futures from that information.
A player who could have benefit from this agreement is ex-Ohio State wide receiver Jalin Marshall, who entered the 2016 NFL Draft as an underclassman and subsequently went undrafted.
In a statement, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said this decision was made with the student-athlete’s well-being in mind.
“The more information our College Advisory Committee has, the better evaluations they can make for student-athletes who are at a critical juncture of their lives,” Vincent said in a statement. “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.”
Of the the 28 Big Ten underclassmen players who left school early for the NFL Draft in the 2015 and 2016 NFL Drafts, five went undrafted. Ohio State had nine underclassmen players enter the NFL Draft in 2016.