How Covid-19 is Impacting the 2021 NFL Draft Cycle

By Justin Van Fulpen | @jvanfulpen

Due to Covid-19, the NCAA has given each player this year another year of eligibility, which on the surface sounds great but it does come with some complications with the NFL Draft process, unless the NFL changes their rules.

  • All players will have college eligibility left, which means any player that wants to be included in the 2021 NFL Draft must declare for the draft by the declaration deadline (which normally is around January 15th).
  • Since all players will have to declare, NFL scouts can’t interact with “underclassmen” (or players with NCAA eligibility left) until after the declare date.  All-Star games such as the Tropical Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all normally host their event before the declare date, so no scouts would be able to attended until after the declare date, unless the NFL changes their rules for this year.
  • NFL Combine Invites normally sent out to senior prospects after the schools bowl game will likely not be sent out since the NFL Combine won’t know for sure who is staying and who is declaring, so they will have to wait until after the declare date to send out invites.
  • What will be the Covid-19 protocols with the All-Star games, NFL Combine and Pro Days?  Due to protocol issues, these events could look very different. 
  • With the FCS Spring Schedule being released, any player who participates in the full schedule with disclosing their draft intent, would not be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, unless the NFL changes the rules.
  • All college players will now have to decide to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft or play in the 2021 college football season when everyone hopes we are back to normal for the 2022 NFL Draft cycle.

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