Anyone who has graduated from high school is eligible to enter the NFL draft. If you do not play in college, keep working out and consider being a walk-on. Otherwise, you will have to wait until after graduation.
The fastest way for a player to make it into the NFL is through the draft. In most years, about 90 percent of all players drafted by the NFL are chosen in the first four rounds. The remaining 10 percent can be signed as free agents after their college seasons end.
Only certain colleges offer scholarships to help pay for tuition and other expenses. Most big-time football programs award scholarships that cover nearly all of their players' costs. Others rely more on student athletes to pay their own way through school. No matter what type of scholarship you receive, you must fulfill certain requirements to be able to retain it after graduating from college.
Some schools specifically name football players as those who cannot receive scholarships. These are known as "no-cut" schools. At no-cut schools, even if a player does not meet the program's eligibility requirements, such as playing time, he or she can still be awarded a scholarship if there is room available.
There are different ways for a player to be disqualified from receiving a scholarship at a no-cut school.
A player must be three years out of high school to be picked into the NFL. That implies that before entering the NFL, a player must have at least a high school graduation. The NFL also prefers athletes with some maturity and experience, and requires players to spend time playing college football. However, there are exceptions -- such as when one of their own employees is willing to coach the player -- but this is not common.
The most famous high school athlete who went on to make it in the NFL was Jerry Rice. But many other high school athletes have done the same thing. Here are just a few: Paul Hornung, Johnny Unitas, Charlie Ward, Charles White, Bruce Smith, Michael Robinson, Lyle Sendlein, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Terrell Davis, Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, Derrick Brooks, Deion Sanders, Michael Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marcus Allen, Alvin Harper, OJ Simpson, Ricky Williams, Kerry Collins, and Adam Jones.
The shortest player in NFL history was Everson Walls from Miami Beach High School in Florida. He measured 5'10" and weighed 175 pounds. He played for the San Diego Chargers from 1950-1951. The longest-running player in NFL history is Jim Otto from Central High School in Colorado. He played in 49 games over 10 seasons (1960-1969), missing only two games due to injury.
Players who wish to enter the NFL draft must exhaust all of their collegiate eligibility before the start of the next college football season. Typically, this means students finish four years of college and earn a degree of their choice. However, since some schools do not require their players to complete their degrees, these athletes could join a team as early as January after their fourth year.
However, most teams will not accept a prospect with no more collegiate games left to play. So, usually by their fourth year, prospects have proven themselves in college and are considered by many to be guaranteed jobs with the first-team offense or defense. Many players go further than just one season to prove they can play at the professional level. A few players have even skipped college and gone directly into the league; however, this is very rare.
In general, modern NFL players come from a variety of educational backgrounds, but most have at least a high school diploma. Some top players have bachelor's degrees or master's degrees. The majority of players, though, only have an education up to the tenth grade. Since many positions in the NFL require a college degree or specialized training, this fact does not deter many applicants.
Underclassmen and those who graduate before exhausting their collegiate eligibility can petition the NFL to be drafted early. Only the year after the conclusion of their collegiate eligibility may players enter the draft.
Other Requirements for Entry into the NFL Every collegiate football player has four years of eligibility if he or she meets the academic and other criteria set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He may play collegiate football and enhance his talents for up to four years of eligibility.
To be eligible for the NFL Draft, athletes must be three years away from high school, according to current NFL regulations. "After their freshmen year, they may be drafted." "They might be picked after their sophomore, junior, or senior year," he told the Detroit Free Press. "But not many do because it's such a competitive business and you never know when someone is going to get hurt or fall off to another team."
The earliest draft picks come from Princeton University. The NFL Draft begins on Thursday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on ESPN. There will be seven rounds of selection followed by several hours of additional selections called "overdrafts". Teams can trade up and/or down in the first round.
Since its inception in 1967, only two players have been able to win the Heisman Trophy while still being eligible for college football's annual award ceremony (Lou Holtz and Charles White). Both players were considered top-10 prospects at their positions before entering college. White played just one season before turning pro, while Holtz finished his career with six other programs. Neither player received any compensation from their schools for playing in the NFL Draft; instead, they were allowed to keep all of the money they made.
While there is no minimum age for professional football players, you must be out of high school for at least three years before you may play. If you graduate at the age of 17, you must wait until the age of 20 to join the NFL draft. Otherwise, you could be banned for life if you are discovered to have taken performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The earliest age that any player has been drafted is 19 years and 4 months. This was done by Chris Henry from South Carolina State University who was picked up by the Tennessee Titans on April 28, 2008.
Overall, it is not easy but it is possible to get drafted. The best way to ensure this happens is by winning a national championship while attending a top-tier college program. A second option is to run for an NCAA division I-A school as a wide receiver. Even though most receivers go into the draft, some teams will still pick up players who are unproven at the college level. A third option is to play semi-professional football in a league like the Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League. A fourth option is to try out for a pro team but only one person has ever done this and he got selected in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL draft. There were also two cases where people were drafted in the supplemental round but they both failed their drug tests so this group consists only of failures.