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How college players are rated in the NFL draft


The NFL draft is one of the grandest spectacles of professional football. It marks the annual moment when college talent ascends to the highest level of the sport. Every year, NFL teams inject millions of dollars into assembling complex systems to rank college players, with each panel of evaluators attempting to quantify the level of projection of these players to the NFL. Let’s take a closer look at the methods and standards by which college players are rated in the NFL draft.

College players go through a scouting process

The scouting process for the NFL draft is exhaustive and multi-pronged, with traditional scouting methods, advanced analytics, and psychological assessments all contributing to the evaluation of potential draftees. NFL personnel employ scouts, who travel to watch college games, practices, and workouts, often to gauge the traits of potential draftees.

College players’ physical attributes are assessed

College players’ physical attributes are fundamental to being drafted by an NFL club. Height, weight, speed, quickness, and strength are measured as the most important attributes of the player, which represent their gifts to play at the professional level. Regularly, players ask, “Can you do my paper for me?”, which provides enough spare time to further develop their physical attributes. For instance, at the quarterback and wide-receiver positions, arm strength and speed are vital while at the offensive and defensive line, size and strength are essential.

Scouts examine college players’ technical skills

Beyond physical attributes, scouts scrutinize a player’s technical skills, including how well an athlete executes basic techniques such as blocking, tackling, route running, catching, and throwing. A player’s skills specific to a certain position are examined with special attention to make sure they have the ability to compete at an NFL level.

Scouts analyze college players’ football IQ

Football IQ is a player’s grasp of the sport—their understanding of game situations, reading of plays, and responding to them fluidly on the field. Scouts believe that football IQ can be measured by instincts, awareness, and how players adapt to changing game situations. Having football IQ is important, and players considered to have it are often deemed prized candidates for a team.

Assessment of intangible qualities

Going beyond the physical and technical attributes of players, scouts assess what is generally referred to as intangibles, such as a player’s leadership, work ethic, and coachability during time in college. These kinds of judgments have important effects—good and bad—on a player’s success and longevity in the NFL.

The NFL Scouting Combine and college Pro Pays take place

The NFL Scouting Combine and college Pro Days are important showcases where college players show NFL scouts, coaches, and executive teams their athletic ability in person. Players on the Combine tour perform physical fitness tests like the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and others. Pro Days give players their last opportunity to showcase position-specific techniques and workout drills in familiar surroundings, often prepared and organized by their college coaches. For a highly competitive player, it’s a platform to make one final impression on an NFL team that still might not be sure about them.

Scouts offer draft grades and rankings

On the basis of those evaluations, scouts assign draft grades and rankings to college players that reflect their projected worth and ability to succeed in the NFL. Those grades and rankings, in turn, allow the 32 NFL teams to rank their draft board accordingly. Players with higher grades and rankings tend to be drafted earlier in the process, while those with lower grades tend to be drafted later or potentially not drafted at all.

Secure your future in the NFL by understanding the draft process

The evaluation of college players for the NFL scouting combine, which takes place at the NFL draft, is a thorough process of analysis. It incorporates many variables, from athletic measurements to position-specific skills, football intelligence, and immeasurable qualities. At times, this process utilizes old-school scouting tools, analytical metrics, and new-fangled events such as the NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days to cull the most talented and promising players who are capable of forming winning rosters for NFL teams.

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