The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2021 NFL draft is Jan. 18, but the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 college football season has fourth-year players (aka, seniors) granted an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA. As a result, those players must also declare their intentions for the NFL Draft– sort of — and it was reported on Thursday that they’ll have until March 1 to do so.
With the NCAA granting a fifth year of college football eligibility, the NFL informed clubs this morning that players who have completed four years must notify the league by March 1 if they intend to forego the 2021 NFL Draft and return to college, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 14, 2021
The difference here is that the league will essentially assume fourth-year players are in the 2021 draft pool. Instead, ‘seniors’ have to inform the NFL that they aren’t entering the draft and will instead return for the extra year of college ball.
Underclassmen have to say they’re in. Seniors (fourth-year players) have to say they’re out. Got it? Good.
It’s a strange deadline considering the NFL Combine is traditionally held at the end of February. This could be a sign that the Combine will be held later in the spring or canceled altogether.
There have been many seniors, like Florida’s Kyle Trask, who’ve taken to social media to announce their intention to turn pro. It appears those posts were superfluous.
The 2021 NFL draft is scheduled to kick off on April 29 in Cleveland.