The 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and while experts comb over the data, one statistic is as concerning as it is eye-popping.
Of all the players who decided their college career was over before finishing their senior year, a whopping 29 percent of them went unclaimed at the end of the seventh round.
With several big names from reputable schools left on the board, it points to the alarming number of players who are using the NCAA as nothing more than a minor league system for the NFL. The status of “student-athlete” appears as tentative as ever, and many players who felt that greener pastures were awaiting them in the pro league were met with a rude awakening.
They now face the reality of the situation, they can’t return to school, and they’ll have to try and make a 53-man roster as an undrafted free-agent. Usually, the road for an undrafted free agent involves several years on the practice squad, then a promotion to the main roster as a result of a teammates injury.
Players are given the opportunity to be evaluated by the NFL prior to deciding that they will forgo their remaining college eligibility. Were players mislead about their worth at the next level? Or is the prospect of continued beaten with no financial compensation too much to bear any longer, and therefore worth the risk in their eyes?
Some of the more physically gifted undrafted free agents might be able to present a team some value on special teams. Others might be selling cars by the end of the year.