One hundred and two players have forgone their college eligibility this year in hopes of being selected in May's NFL Draft. Only 254 (or so) players will be drafted, so there are bound to be some hurt feelings later this spring.
Players leaving college early only to find out they aren't good enough to play in the NFL hurts both ends of the spectrum. It denies a college team a presumably productive player, and it robs the NFL of a potential new hire before he's fully incubated for life in the League.
Nick Saban has an idea of how to fix it, and he may be onto something.
Here's the CliffsNotes version: Close to 300 players are invited to the NFL Combine every year, which is more than the number of available picks. Saban suggests that only players with a 3rd Round or higher grade get an invite to the Combine. Additionally, the NFL should hold an underclassmen combine before the early-entry date.
"The way it's going right now, I don't think the NFL really wants all these guys coming out for the draft. They know they can develop better in college if they stay and play more, unless they're going to be high draft picks," Saban told Phil Savage on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "It's difficult for them to develop players the way they practice now, so if a player's not a high pick, it's much more difficult for them to develop as an NFL player. I even made the point that if we're not going to do something like (an underclassman combine), maybe if a guy doesn't have at least a top-three-round grade, you don't even invite him to the combine."
The current system requires players to leave the nest before they really know whether or not they can fly.
"More guys go down at the combine than go up, because they're not as fast," Saban added. "And they don't have a very good feel in comparison to all the other competition in the draft at their position. And when they come to that realization, it's too late, the way we do it now."