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The NFL has changed how it communicates draft grades with underclassmen


Who knew Nick Saban was in the news-breaking business? After taking the podium at SEC Media Days indicating that there were changes coming to the NFL's early-entry process, voila, the NFL has announced changes to its early-entry process.

Here's what Saban said: "I know the NFL has expressed some regret about some rules that they're ... we're only going to be allowed to submit -- and you need to check this out, because I just read it before I came over here -- five players for junior grades because it's getting overwhelming for (the NFL). We had 11 (request feedback) last year. And guys are going to get a first-round grade, a second-round grade, or a stay-in-school grade."

And here is the NFL's confirmation, via NFL Network reporter Albert Breer:

There were 102 players with eligibility remaining (98 who had yet to graduate) who declared early for the NFL in 2014, a record, and 36 went undrafted. It is in both college football and the NFL's best interests to reduce that number, and this is apparently a solution they believe in.

The second nugget of this new rule is what's most interesting, that the NFL will limit the number to five grades per school. 

First of all, how many schools does this even affect? A handful, at most. As you can see below, an average of three early entrants per year over the past three seasons is good for third place in college football. Five grades per school will be plenty for the vast majority of FBS. 

The reason behind the NFL's cap, we are told, is to curtail the number of juniors who seek a draft grade that have no intention whatsoever of actually going pro. In order to secure loss-of-value insurance, insurance companies require a grade to then set the baseline for their policy. A guy gets a third-round grade, tweaks an ankle at pro day and then gets drafted in the sixth round, and now the player has a basis for cashing in on loss-of-value insurance. Apparently, the people who hand out these grades were overwhelmed, and the NFL is trying to stop that.

Of course, life finds a way, and the handful of players whom this affects - LSU, Alabama and Ohio State players who ran out of draft grade musical chairs - will just get their grades from other, less official, sources.