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NFL Undrafted Underclassmen eligilbilty to return to College Football?

May 10, 2016


Every year it is sad to see. A redshirt Sophmore or true junior leaves college football with a year or even two years left of eligibility to pursue his dream at the NFL at a young age. Maybe this is the time his stock will be the highest. Maybe there is a potential injury concern that is weighing on his conscious, but that is hard to validate as now a player can file an injury insurance policy, see Myles Jack who cashed in on $5 Million for not getting drafted in the first round. For some reason, they weren’t the right fit, were a “tweener”, or didn’t have the mental maturity to make it in the NFL. In 2015 24 underclassmen went undrafted, In 2016 that number was 30. Now yes these players still have a chance to an undrafted free agent, but why not give these players a chance to come back to redeem themselves in college football? Why are they risking their eligibility and chance to better themselves in college football if they are not guaranteed to have a good look at making an NFL roster?

Good report here from Chris Vannini at on the undrafted underclassmen.

In college hockey and college baseball, drafted players can choose to go (or return) to college. Why not let undrafted football underclassmen return? It’s something Bret Bielema is looking into.

Arkansas offensive guard Denver Kirkland went undrafted this year, one of 30 underclassmen who left early and didn’t get drafted. Bielema said on SportsTalk with Bo Mattingly that he’s reaching out to coaches of undrafted underclassmen to get some other opinions on the issue.

“I haven’t touched base with Gus (Malzahn) yet, but he had two that didn’t get drafted. Dan (Mullen) did as well. Ohio State had a couple,” Bielema said. “Those coaches, I’m reaching out to them and trying to put together some collective thoughts on how to approach it. Now, some kids maybe had to move on for academic reasons or personal or their own story. But if you have a guy like Denver who’s on progression to graduate, is doing the right things and needs another year (can we change something?)”

Maybe it could even apply to drafted players.

“Alex (Collins) could be in the same category. I’m glad he got taken, but I know he was planning on the third or second round (instead of the fifth). That’s millions. Remember Darius Philon? He goes in the middle of the sixth round (last year). If he came back and played for us last year, he probably would have been a second-rounder and possibly a first-rounder, the way those D-tackles were going off the board. He’s probably lost, between last year’s draft and this year’s draft, somewhere between $10-14 million that he will never, ever see again. It’s insane.”

Basketball has pushed back its withdrawal date to after the NBA Combine and allows players to declare but not hire an agent. It allows players to have a better gauge of their stock before a final decision. It’s worth noting baseball and hockey have minor leagues and bigger drafts, but should football change its process?

Dan Mullen spoke out last week about football players getting bad advice and being sold a dream, instead of maximizing their chance for success. Not every undrafted underclassman needed to return, as Bielema noted, but it’s a battle they have to deal with.

“There’s a whole mindset now of starting your first contract now so you can get to the second contract,” Bielema said. “They’ve got to play four years of injury-free football in the NFL before that. Most guys don’t make their second contract, but they all live on a hope and a prayer. I don’t have a card invested except their well-being. Now, if Denver and Alex were coming back, we’d probably be rated as one of the better teams in the SEC. Hunter (Henry) was hoping to be a first, but still was a second. Two or three guys could change a season.”

For more information contact a Seattle NFL Agent.

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