In the past, standout college football players typically would exhaust their eligibility before chasing the NFL. That time has very clearly ended.
According to Dane Brugler of The Athletic, 133 underclassmen have declared for the 2019 NFL draft.
While the number is unofficial, it’s set to smash the previous mark of 119 set last year. Since the early entrant deadline has passed, the NFL will release the final list of underclassmen later this week.
Sure, it’s disappointing to lose so many of college football’s best talents. However, athletes have recognized their value and know pursuing the NFL is worthwhile.
Although there are only 32 first-round picks, individuals who declared should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Some make mistakes, but others are capitalizing on a soaring draft stock. Still others may quietly have uncertain academic futures.
Overwhelmingly, they seemed to make proper choices.
Besides, only a few potential first-round talents ― Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis ― stayed in college. The first two days of the 2019 draft will be loaded with underclassmen.
And that, for good reason, has become the new normal.