ALLEN PARK, Mich. — There were 111 underclassmen that declared for the NFL draft this year — a record high — and after looking at all the numbers, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn is convinced some of them received “bad information” with how high they’ll go.
Just looking at the numbers, Quinn said, 70 underclassmen were drafted in 2018, tying a league record, and considering team needs and just the odds he believes quite a few will go undrafted this year. And without a minor league like the recently shuttered Alliance of American Football, there are no places for a lot of these players to go.
“We actually looked at this last week, looked at the entire list when it came out and where we had guys ranked, and unfortunately, the way college football is going, these players are getting bad information about how high they might go,” Quinn said. “And it’s not the colleges’ fault. I think it’s other people, family members, other influences in their career that are telling them, ‘Hey, go out early.’
“So I think this year is going to be pretty interesting to sit back after the draft and kind of do the numbers and say how many juniors were picked in 2018 compared to how many juniors were picked in 2019. It’s probably going to be about the same number, if I were to guess, but you’re going to have X amount of guys that aren’t drafted and now they’re out of college eligibility and now there’s no AAF so there’s no other place to play. So where do these guys go? Where do those other 40 guys go? I’m not sure.”
Last year, 106 players declared early for the draft and 36 went undrafted. The NFL has had 50 or more underclassmen selected every year since 2013 and the numbers have increased over the years. In 2000, only 20 underclassmen were drafted.
Quinn said he didn’t know what the best solution would be. When he was asked about the NBA model where if an underclassman isn’t drafted he can then return to school for another year, he wasn’t ready to advocate for it yet but “that probably could work.” Without doing the research, though, he wasn’t ready to stand behind it as a solution yet.
All he knows is that he believes it is a problem and something that needs to get figured out between the NFL and the NCAA leagues because some small-school players also declare with the same questionable advice.
“It’s a bigger topic that needs more discussion because there’s going to be a lot of disappointment this year just because you look at the pure numbers of what we’re talking about,” Quinn said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit of an eye-opener for some of the colleges. The coaches obviously want players to stay, right? I think the players have to get a real evaluation and sometimes they don’t believe the evaluation they get from the NFL and I don’t really get because we’re part of that. “I think it should be an interesting year to see how that shakes out.”