Alabama head coach Nick Saban has some ideas on how to change the NFL Scouting Combine experience that he believes would help prevent the growing trend of underclassmen declaring early for the NFL Draft. Saban thinks making the combine a more exclusive opportunity is one way to go. Another idea Saban thinks might work would be allowing players to participate in a combine event before players have to declare for the NFL Draft, allowing players to get a sense of where they really stand before making the decision to go pro or return to school.
“More guys go down at the combine than go up, because they’re not as fast,” Saban said in an interview on SiriusXM NFL radio. “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. More guys go down at the Combine than go up because they’re not as fast and they don’t have a very good feel in comparison to all the other competition in the draft at their position. When they come to that realization, it’s too late.”
As noted by AL.com, this year’s NFL Scouting Combine invited 355 players with hopes of making it in the NFL, but only 254 players were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. This year a record number of underclassmen declared early for the NFL Draft, with 98 players choosing to skip their senior seasons.
One of the biggest reasons for more players choosing to leave school early for the NFL is the impact of the most recent collective bargaining agreement ut in place in the NFL. For players to cash in on bigger paydays for a longer period of time, they need to start their NFL careers as soon as possible. Some players are worthy of the NFL right now, but a growing number of players may actually be making a poor decision to leave early, perhaps due to an agent leading them to believe this is the best move in the long term.
Saban has been outspoken about keeping agents away from college football, so his views on how to change the combine should not be too surprising. In fact, he may actually have a good idea with having some sort of combine event before players have to declare early, and you would think there would be a way to make something like this possible that would comply with NCAA rules. A mini combine or a series of mini combines in January, after the bowls, could help players get a real feel for whether or not declaring early is the right choice or not.