The COVID-19 pandemic has brought collegiate sports to a complete stop and uncertainty for the college football season. Amid the growing risk of Pac-12 conference schools potentially being forced not to play football this season, some of their top players could look for a way out.
As Pac-12 athletic directors discuss plans for playing football during a pandemic despite stay-at-home regulations in their states, several top players could be thinking about an unusual move.
According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, there is a growing sense around football that there could be an influx of players entering the NFL’s supplemental draft. Specifically, the focus seems to be on Pac-12 players leaving their schools behind during the uncertainty of the pandemic and trying to find a way to reach the NFL.
The Pac-12 is dealing with the greatest level of uncertainty. At a time when commissioner Larry Scott isn’t widely respected in the conference, Pac-12 athletic directors have reportedly gone behind his back to discuss plans for the upcoming football season.
Among the plans discussed, schools in California and Oregon potentially approving of their fellow Pac-12 teams playing football in 2020 even if the entire conference can’t.
California has exercised some of the most strict safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom suggested no sports could be played with fans in attendance in 2020. Meanwhile, Los Angeles recently extended its stay-at-home restrictions through July.
Pauline notes that three specific players have been mentioned the most as potential candidates for the supplemental draft. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, a projected top-three pick in our 2021 NFL Draft mock, headlines the list. Behind him, Stanford tackle Walker Little and Oregon State edge rusher Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
The NFL holds a supplemental draft every year during the summer. In the NFL Supplemental Draft, teams privately submit their bids on a player with a draft pick. If they submit the highest pick priority on a player, such as a first-round pick, they are awarded the player. In exchange, the team will give up the draft pick it bid in the following NFL Draft.
Pauline notes the NFL could hold a supplemental draft in August, which the league has done before in special circumstances. Such a scenario would give players more time to make a decision and the NFL could have more certainty for whether or not college football will be played in 2020.