Following their last year of collegiate eligibility, all college seniors are eligible for the NFL Combine. Underclassmen who declare for the NFL draft and meet all NCAA and NFL rules are eligible to play. Players must be at least 180 days past the date of their final school game to participate in the combine.
The NFL Combine is held each year in Indianapolis. It is an opportunity for newly drafted players to show team officials what they can do on field exercises and in drills conducted by specialists from all 32 teams. The main purpose of the combine is to allow teams to evaluate prospects before they are available in the draft.
Only player-eligibles can be drafted in April's first round. Teams can sign free agents or trade for players during the offseason. A player is no longer eligible after sitting out for a year; he cannot return until after his second season has ended. In theory, this could prevent a player from ever joining another team if he doesn't want to.
In 2014, there were 28 former college football players who participated in the NFL Combine. Three former players were picked in the first round of the draft (Calvin Johnson, Justin Blackmon, and Dee Ford). Another 12 players were selected in the second round or later.
Only roughly 9,000 of the original 100,000 players make it to the collegiate level. Furthermore, only around 300 of these players make it to the Scouting Combine, which is the large pool from which NFL clubs pick their players. A 40-yard sprint and a bench press are among the tests administered at the NFL Combine.
The majority of college football players do not become professionals in the sport. According to the Professional Football Athletic Association, only 1 in 10,000 athletes will ever play in the NFL. However, because so few players make it to the league, every one who does makes a huge impact on the game.
The average salary for an NFL player is $280,000 after taxes. This includes both starting quarterbacks and linebackers. It also includes defensive players such as cornerbacks and safeties. The highest paid position in the NFL is quarterback, followed by wide receiver, then defense, then tailback.
However, there are some positions that pay less than others. For example, running backs usually don't make as much as quarterbacks or wide receivers because they contribute to all phases of the game. Linebackers typically make more than defensive ends because they can tackle and cover more space. Defensive ends often make more than offensive linemen because they're usually only responsible for one area of the field at a time.
There are also some exceptions.
Only athletes who have "been out of high school for at least three years" are eligible for the NFL Draft, according to the league's regulations. In practically all circumstances, this implies any athlete who has finished his or her true junior or redshirt sophomore season. However, since the 2001 draft, players who have completed only two seasons of college football are also eligible.
Players must be at least 18 years old to be drafted and have a minimum grade point average on their high school transcript of 2.0 or higher. Students who have spent at least one year playing American football will often attend training camps after they finish high school to improve their skills before going back for their final year of school. Such players may leave school early without affecting their chances of being selected in the draft.
Those who don't meet the above requirements but would still like to play pro football can try out for the NFL Development Camp. Only those who make the camp's roster will further advance their careers through training and other opportunities that come with being on an NFL team. Players who do not make the cut will need to continue pursuing their dreams elsewhere.
Every year, roughly 255 players are chosen in the NFL draft. There were 335 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which indicates that at least 80 combine invitees will not be picked. The other 165 or so players who attended the combine have a better chance of being selected during the draft.
Players can get drafted in different ways. Some elite players choose to forgo getting paid until after they're drafted while others use the combine and other events during the pre-draft process to make themselves more attractive to teams with need positions on their rosters. Bottom line: If you want to get drafted, you've got to do something about it before the draft takes place.
The most effective way to get drafted is by running good 40-yard dash times or doing well at the bench press. These days, most teams prefer players who run fast because it's easier to find talent in other areas of the country. A player who performs well at the combine has a better chance of being selected.
Here are some examples of players who were not picked in the draft but instead signed contracts with NFL teams: Blake Bortles (QB), Derek Carr (QB), Johnny Manziel (QB), Justin Blackmon (WR), Andy Dalton (QB), Melvin Gordon (RB), C.J. Spiller (RB), LaDainian Tomlinson (RB).