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Pipeline to the Pros

Think you're ready to make the leap to the NFL? Here's a step-by-step guide that will equip you and your family to make informed decisions along the journey of transitioning from a student-athlete to a professional football player.

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Looking for an agent?

Agents should be skilled at negotiating the following:

  • Signing Bonus
  • Paragraph 5 or Base Salary
  • Roster, Report, and Workout Bonuses
  • Incentives
  • Default / Off-set Language
Questions? Contact Mark at Mark.Levin@nflpa.com
NFLPA Future Player Checklist

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Thinking about leaving school early?

NFL and NCAA rules permit underclassmen who are three years removed from high school to apply for an evaluation through the College Advisory Committee. The committee, made up of professional and team scouts, informs players where they are likely to be drafted — if at all. This protects players from making the decision to leave college too early and prematurely giving up both their college eligibility and the chances of improving their draft status.

Questions? Contact Willis at Willis.Whalen@nflpa.com


Players in their third year who are interested in being evaluated by NFL scouts can have their names submitted by their coaches in December. Results are released by the College Advisory Committee in January, after the regular season and before bowl games.
  • 2017: 67/95 drafted; 28 undrafted
  • 2016: 66/96 drafted; 30 undrafted
  • 2015: 60/84 drafted; 24 undrafted
  • 2014: 62/98 drafted; 36 undrafted
  • 2013: 50/73 drafted; 23 undrafted

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If invited, which college all-star game should you participate in?

All-Star games provide players the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of professional coaches and scouts. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which hosts over 200 NFL scouts, is unique because it also equips players with knowledge about the business side of football through a program called NFLPA University. As the union for all NFL players, we at the NFLPA believe our messaging, guidance and holistic approach will best prepare prospects for their future professional football careers.

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Training can get expensive. If a player chooses to train for the one of the NFL Combines at a facility other than his university, the player should know the costs as well as who is paying for the training. Players are encouraged to have a conversation with their agents to see what is--and what is not--paid for by the agent, as well as what will need to be paid back.


Training for the NFL Combine not only takes determination and drive, but a wallet full of cash. Some training centers cost as much as $25,000 per player in preparation fees. Be sure to do your research!

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Approximately 300 NFL prospects are invited to the NFL National Combine, a four-day job interview of physical, mental and medical testing by NFL personnel. Another way for draft hopefuls to showcase their talent is at the NFL Regional Combines. To participate in a Regional Combine, players must have played college football in their senior season and used all of their NCAA college eligibility during the fall prior to the upcoming NFL Draft. Players who go undrafted become free agents and can sign with any team.

Questions? Call NFL Regional Combine contact Jamil Northcutt at (212) 450-2000

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Players who do not complete their workout at the NFL combine due to field conditions, previous or existing injuries, or other factors, may choose to conduct a Pro Day at their school with other prospects, including local prospects outside of the university. Most university Pro Days are conducted in March and April between the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft.


At Pro Days, coaches generally have more time to work with the players and put them through position-specific drills that the prospect hasn't done before. Coaches are always looking for little things in these drills that indicate the player has the tools to play at the next level. They also get to see how the player takes coaching and follows instruction.

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Educating and empowering NFL hopefuls is a priority of the NFLPA. Student-athletes with college eligibility remaining who declare early for the NFL Draft may not receive all the information needed to make informed decisions about their future. That’s why the NFLPA hosts an educational seminar between the NFL Combine and NFL Draft for the Top 15 juniors.

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Every year, 256 players are drafted by the NFL out of about 70,000 collegiate-level prospects. In total, only 1.6% of college players get an opportunity to play in the NFL. Nearly 30% of the players who declare early for the NFL Draft never get drafted. Those who do can look forward to a career that, on average, only lasts about 3.5 years.


Word To The Wise: An early-round grade by the media is vastly different from being an actual early-round pick. In 2010, Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead declared early, following encouragement by his father and an excitable media that predicted him as a first-round pick. Unfortunately, he went undrafted and never played a single down in the NFL.

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Congratulations! Newly signed players have joined a new team and are at the start of a career in professional football. The NFLPA is here to champion the hours, wages and working conditions of each player, as well as to provide players with helpful resources during and after their professional careers. Players should get started by familiarizing themselves with information about offseason training activities, financial resources and drug policies.


Questions? Contact PlayerAffairs@nflpa.com