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How You Can Become Eligible and Get into the NFL

There is no doubt that the NFL is one of the most popular sportsin America. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Many young college football players dream to make it to the NFL. However, it is said to be so competitive that an average college football player has about a 0.2 per cent chance of making it to one of the 32 member clubs in the NFL.

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College football itself is a competitive realm that enjoys great viewership. If you are a young man who wants to make it to the NFL and have a unique lifestyle, then this article can help you by giving you an overview of how making it to the NFL will look like:

High School

If you are still in high school, go for a high school football team try out. Remember that right from the very beginning, the NFL recruiters keep a keen eye on young football players. It goes without saying that you will have a challenging life balancing your academics and practice time. Getting your high school diploma is an absolute must. Hence, this is the first mountain that you will have to conquer.

University football Camp

You then go on to participate in a university football camp. In this stage, you get to train hard with players in your age group and become noticed by people. This camp is a great opportunity for networking and getting to know all the players you might possibly be competing against. You get a grasp of your strengths and weaknesses and also of that of fellow players. Their talent and skill might even rub off on you.

Contacting football coaches

When you finish your junior year, it is time for you to contact college football coaches and send them all the details about you. If you don’t have good academic performance at this point, it can be hard to be acknowledged by a potential football coach, even if you are good at football. 

This is because the coaches want players who will not get slowed down by their academics as they pursue their NFL dream. Therefore, make sure to highlight both your academic performance and football skills to impress a college football coach.

Division I and Division II Schools

This is also the time for you to register with the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) if you want to play college football as an amateur athlete. Then, in your senior year, you might start getting offers from college coaches of Division I and Division 2 schools.

A Division I school is better for your football career in every way. You will want to get into a school with a good reputation and track record. You can read up on the players who went to this school and start planning and doing everything in your power to make it to your dream school.

There has actually been an ongoing debate about whether college football and basketball athletes should be paid or not. After all, college athletes work so hard for their schools and bring in millions of dollars.

They put in close to 40 hours of practice every week. Coaches happen to receive great salaries in eight figures, and they are even provided with assistants. College football also serves as a great advertisement for many of these schools.

These young athletes have a lot of travel expenses and even have to pay for their uniforms. They also tend to suffer many injuries in the sport. Fundraising is quite a common activity that players in many sports engage in to support themselves. For instance, young volleyball players are always on the lookout for fundraising ideas like to have a successful fundraising campaign.

College Football

If you get into college football, you will have a lot on your plate. You will have intense physical training sessions on a regular basis. You will have to work on your strength and agility. 

Football players need to be strong to withstand the sport and be fast enough to dash across the field as quickly as possible. Indulging in other sports like kickboxing can be immensely helpful and give you a mean edge.

You will have to be in the gym a lot more and do your strength training exercises like bench press, shoulder press, deadlifts, squats and more to target all your muscle groups. Cardio training is an integral part of preparing for the sport as well. It is essential to have sufficient periods of rest and not over-exert yourself as it can be quite counter-intuitive.

When you are training, know that this is a safe space and that you can work on your weaknesses with the coach. You will need to work on your pass plays, pass blockings, speed positions and more. It is essential to not have very visible or noticeable weaknesses in your performance.

What Happens When You Don’t Get into College Football?

You’ll possibly be considered as a walk-on. This is a challenging path to walk on. To qualify for a walk-on position, you will need to knock on many doors, study harder and stay highly focused.

Not all hope is lost if you don’t get to play college football. After all, the famous Vince Papale never played a day of college football, and he got signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. You can also read up on the journeys of players like Ray Seals, Sav Rocca, Michael Lewis and Lawrence Okoye.

If you don’t get into college football, you can try semi-professional football or maybe aim for the Canadian Football League (CFL), which is becoming increasingly popular. However, the rules tend to be quite different from American football. You can also play in the Indoor Football League.

Remember that the very nature of walking down this career path is filled with uncertainty and the influence of many factors. Hence, it will serve you well to have a backup plan at every stage of your football career. Make sure to be well versed with all the football positions. Players often find themselves trying out for one position and ending up playing for another.

The NFL Draft

The NFL draft is an exciting event held every year where NFL teams consider the performances and skills of young college football players and pick them for their teams. It can be quite challenging to enter the pool of players who make it to the NFL draft. You will have to go through the NFL Combine tests.

Eligibility Criteria

You don’t want to set your eyes on the NFL draft without getting enough college football experience. The eligibility criteria for the NFL draft happens to be quite simple. There is actually no minimum age requirement. 

All you have to do is be out of high school for at least three years. Also, once you finish your graduation, you have to apply for the draft within one year or within four football seasons since graduation.

Mostly, the average age of college football players who get drafted is around 25 to 26 years of age. However, interestingly enough, George Blanda for the Oakland Raiders was the oldest NFL player to have gotten drafted. He was almost 49 years old when he got drafted. Nigerian born player Amobi Okoye for the Houston Texans got drafted when he was just 19 years old.

You can also get special permission for early eligibility. For this, you will have to declare for the draft early, and you will also have to prove to the league office that you will graduate early or that you are ready to forfeit the rest of your college football eligibility to declare for the draft.

Regional and National Combine

Once you register for the draft, you should then register for the Regional Starting Combines. Remember that eligibility for the Combine isn’t exactly a guarantee that you will get drafted. However, it does mean that your chances are higher. 

There will be a special committee to determine which players should be invited. If you are not physically or mentally ready at this point, it is best not to register for the Combine as it can be too much to chew on.

You might even get the chance to attend the NFL National Combine. From here, 250 athletes get to make it to the NFL draft. However, the evaluation can be quite rigorous. Physical fitness is not the only thing that is considered. You will need to have good mental and emotional health and learn how to cope and emotionally regulate yourself as this is a very demanding sport.

How you can increase your chances of getting picked

It might also serve you well to have a sports agent to provide representation services and sports marketing solutions so that you can have a better chance at getting into the NFL. In addition, you will need to have a good wonderlic nfl score and ideally even a few awards to talk about in your athletic resume.

A certified sports agent will be able to provide you with sound advice and training. The agent can help you with the entire process step by step. You are expected to be active on social media and get some good content out there. The world of NFL can be quite overwhelming for a young player, and it is good to have someone by your side to help you with public relations and branding opportunities.

You will notice that young college football players for the draft already enjoy tremendous popularity. These players have active engagement with their audience through social media. They are well-spoken, sociable and charming. 

The NFL draft is something that every American football lover enjoys watching. In fact, many experts make predictions every year of which players are most likely to get picked and which teams are most likely to pick them.

Let’s say you get picked by an NFL team, and if for some reason or the other (usually a contract holdout) you don’t want to sign, then the team holds the right for the year, and you can’t sign with any other team. This can be quite the spot to be in. You will have to apply for the draft the next year again.

The supplemental draft

So, what happens if you don’t get picked by any team at the NFL draft? You can become a free agent and have the opportunity to sign with any team. If you still don’t get a spot with any team, there is no reason to be discouraged. You can apply for the supplemental draft.

In a supplemental draft, professional teams don’t have to attend them necessarily. However, you never really know which coach or scout might attend and notice you. Many players like Jared Gaither, Milford Brown, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon have gotten into NFL through the supplemental draft and have been great assets to their teams.

International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) Scheme

If you are not an American, you can still get into the NFL through the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) scheme. NFL has some great foreign players like OsiUmenyiora, Tamba Hali, Michael Roos and Hines Ward.

NFL Transition Assistance Program

If all else fails and if a player loses all opportunities to get into the NFL, it can be quite a heartbreaking experience. There is actually an NFL Transition Assistance Program that supports them to help them make the transition from the football world to the normal world for such players.

In Conclusion

When you aspire to make it to the NFL, the right mental attitude and good mentorship are very important. With a good mentor by your side, you will be able to have a better assessment of yourself, make more informed decisions and do all the necessary paperwork in a timely manner.

Making it to one of the 32 NFL teams is no ordinary dream. It is vital for young athletes to stay balanced and clear-headed. You will need to have the ability to withstand many setbacks, uncertainties and failures throughout your journey.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at [email protected]

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