With some changes to NFL eligibility this year, there will most likely be a longer list of potential candidates for the NFL Draft. The NCAA has decided to allow a fifth year of eligibility to college players, which means a potential influx of athletes looking to make their way into pro football is on its way. In order to prepare for the stampede, the NFL has made some changes and has established a new cutoff date for announcing eligibility.
The 2021 NFL Draft Will Be A Scramble
The NFL has decided that any player who has completed at least four years of college football will need to notify the league by March 1 if he intends to stay in school, according to Tom Pelissero. He adds that the deadline for underclassmen to petition for special eligibility has been set, but the date won’t be announced until next Monday. The draft itself will run April 29 to May 1, but no word has been given yet if it will be virtual, like it was last year, or if the NFL is ready to return to its normal operations. Either way, the NFL Draft is expected to be held in Cleveland, OH.
The league said in a statement about the eligibility rules changes, “This clarification means that any college football player who participated or would have participated in his fourth season of full-time participation, as distinguished from a ‘red-shirt’ year, during the 2020 college football season will be deemed to be automatically eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. These players are typically listed as ‘seniors’ on their school’s official roster during the 2020 college football season. It is not necessary for such players to notify the League office to become eligible under this clarifying provision.”
College Players Accept The Challenge
Several college players have already announced that they intend on participating in the draft, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tight end Kyle Pitts and quarterback Zach Wilson. Lawrence is a three-time ACC champion with the Clemson Tigers and the 2020 Heisman Trophy runner-up. He was the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year this past season, and is expected to be among the first to be picked in the draft.
Pitts had a great run with the Florida Gators, picking up the John Mackey Award and being chosen as an All-American last year. In 2019, as a sophomore, he finished with 54 receptions for 649 yards and picked up five touchdowns, improving last year to gain 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wilson, a BYU junior, threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns with only three interceptions last year.
Jags Turn Lemon Into Lemonade
After the New York Jets got off to a horrible start this past season, they were suddenly looking at being able to pick first in the draft. They couldn’t even get that right, booking two wins as the season came to an end. That opened the door for the Jacksonville Jaguars to move into first place in the picking order, thanks to their 1-15 record.
The Jags now have a new head coach after signing Urban Meyer this week. The former Ohio State head coach is now looking to get his new house in order and, based on most predictions, will look to secure Lawrence in the draft. That might make Lawrence happy, as there were rumors previously that he had no desire to head to the Jets.
The Jets will get the number-two pick, even though they still don’t have a head coach. Adam Gase was let go at the beginning of the month following two years of poor performances, and the team still doesn’t have a new leader. It has reportedly been talking to Arthur Smith, the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, but nothing has yet been confirmed.