Inside the NFL College Advisory Committee
In the past few weeks, we have had some readers ask us about the NFL College Advisory Committee. Since I was on that committee the last six years, I was the right person to answer the questions.
The major purpose of the committee is to give college underclassmen an idea of what their NFL value is. The NFL has always taken the stance that they want players to stay in school and complete their college education. The league knows that for various reasons some players want to leave school early and begin their professional careers. To help these players make the right decision the league formed this committee so that they could give players a fairly honest evaluation of their ability. There have always been many people who really have no idea how to evaluate. To advise young players on their draft value, the league felt that if they could give players an honest opinion of their draft stock then they could make a well-thought-out decision on whether or not to enter the draft.
How does a player get evaluated by the committee?
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The player has to go through his school to get an evaluation. There is paperwork that has to be filled out by the player and signed by both him and either the school’s director of football operations or the NFL liaison on the coaching staff. This way the school knows what players are planning on leaving school early. When the paperwork is received by the league office the evaluation process begins.
When is the cutoff date for an underclassman to ask the league for an evaluation?
December 17 is the cutoff date. If the league receives paperwork after that date they still try to do an evaluation but with the premise that it may not be able to do a complete evaluation.
How many players apply to the committee for an evaluation?
In the past few years there have been approximately 140-150 players that ask for an evaluation. The actual number of underclassmen that enter the draft is around 50 each year. Every year there are some players that do not go through the evaluation process and just enter the draft. Some of these young men have a very high opinion of their own value and end up making a mistake because on draft day they find out they weren’t as highly thought of as they thought.
Who in the league office oversees the committee?
The NFL Player Personnel Department, headed by Joel Bussert, oversees the College Advisory Committee. Cara Luterek has been the main contact in the Player Personnel Department the last 3 or 4 years.
Who does the evaluations?
Every team in the NFL and the Blesto and National Scouting Combines are involved with underclassmen evaluations. When the league receives the paperwork, they assign the evaluation to at least 4 different clubs and the two scouting combines. The league is not looking for an average grade; they are looking for a consensus opinion. So if after they get grades back there is not a consensus then more clubs will be asked to evaluate the player. The committee wants to give the player the most honest and accurate evaluation they can.
Is the evaluation a true indicator of the players’ worth?
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To an extent it is. The committee rates a player on what they have seen on tape and sometimes in person. They do not have access to all information. For example: They don’t have verified measurables (height, weight, speed). They don’t have medical and injury information and most important don’t have character information. These are all criteria that will have an effect on where a player is drafted.
What kind of evaluation does the committee give back to the player?
Over the years when interviewing underclassmen at the Combine or on campus I always asked a player if he applied to the league for an evaluation and what evaluation they give back to him. There are many times when a player will say, “They told me I would be drafted in the second half of the first round” or “I’d be a high second-round pick.” Sorry guys but that is not true. When a player gets an evaluation from the league it goes something like this:
1) You have the ability to be drafted as high as the 1st round.
2) You have the ability to be drafted as high as the 2nd round
3) You have the ability to be drafted as high as the 3rd round.
4) You probably will not get drafted in the first three rounds but you may be drafted in rounds 4 through 7.
5) You probably won’t be drafted.
After a player gets an evaluation from the league, when is the cutoff date for him to enter the draft?
The league has to receive from the player his application to enter the draft by January 15 of each year. The player then has an additional 72 hours to rescind his application. After midnight on January 18, all applications are final and the player is in the NFL draft. Whether or not he gets invited to the Combine is another matter and we will talk about that next week.