Enforcing draft grades

Submitted by 1464 on April 7th, 2017 at 12:25 PM

This is kind of just a thought experiment, obviously it will not affect any change.  I just think it's an interesting concept.

There is no incentive for a pro league to abide by a draft grade.  Obviously, this is to the harm of the athlete that is given a high draft grade, then drafted low or not even drafted at all.  So here is the solution I will pose:

The NCAA should allow student athletes to opt out of a draft if they are drafted below the round that they're provided in their draft entry evaluation.  Obviously this harms the pro leagues, so I know the NCAA would be hesitant to enact this.  However, if they want to pose themselves as an entity that helps student athletes, it seems like a no brainer.  I think they want to use the specter of ineligibility as leverage against athletes leaving, but it really does harm more than good..

If ineligibility is not a threat, more kids would seek a draft grade.  That would put an incentive on the pro league to honestly provide, or possibly lowball their draft grades, so that kids are required to go pro if they declare.  It forces the leagues to put their money where their mouths are.  Kids will get an honest barometer of the worst case scenario as the leagues protect their interests in assuring that kids that declare are drafted.

You could have two options - either make it so that if a kid is not drafted by the end of the round promised, they are off the board completely.  Or, alternatively, you could allow a team to draft them and take the risk of having the kid opt out.

This makes a lot of sense, which to me means the NCAA will in no way entertain it.  More of a 'king for the day' type idea.



April 7th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

You are joking right? Warren himself said he was given a projection of 2nd or 3rd round. McShay had him as a 2nd round pick, Kiper graded him 3rd or 4th and basically every scouting service had him that same range.

Of course we don't have the exact committee grade, but all signs point towards a grade of somewhere between 2nd and 4th round. He ended up going completely undrafted.


April 7th, 2017 at 1:45 PM ^

Does the draft grade only consider athletic ability?  Often you see players drop like a rock when questions arise as to the content of their character.  Or if they commit some crime before the draft.  I don't see any way to hold the NFL liable for their grading.  I can see players not wanting to play for a certain team and returning to school for another year.  That wouldn't benefit anyone except maybe the player.


April 7th, 2017 at 12:33 PM ^

I'd prefer something more like what hockey does, where you can be drafted whenever but still retain eligibility until you either graduate or sign a contract. Maybe just say "anyone at least 3 years out of high school can be drafted but can still play as long as they don't sign an agent/contract/sponsorship" instead?


April 7th, 2017 at 12:36 PM ^

I'm for either/or.  But I prefer giving the kids a guarantee. Especially since draft order reflects a very real change in pay.  If a kid is under the radar and drafted low out of his freshman year, how does hockey handle that if he blows up?  When he is ready to enter the league, how is he compensated for his increased stature within the class?


April 7th, 2017 at 12:49 PM ^

Hockey does it two ways really, there's a rookie min and max (must be between $575k and $925k I believe, so there's not as much difference as the NFL has), and teams have until August 15th after the player graduates to sign or the kid becomes a free agent and can sign with whomever he wants. The latter great for players and I'm all for it.


April 7th, 2017 at 12:34 PM ^

This seems like an unecessary middle ground between simply letting a player stay in school after being drafted (which happens in, for example, hockey) and the current system.

If you want to let guys return to school, make it possible for them to return to school regardless. This seems finicky to me. 


April 7th, 2017 at 12:42 PM ^

I wish I knew more about the compensation in hockey, but what happens if a team holds the rights to a kid they drafted low before the kid blew up?  What if they say 'you were a 6th round pick' even if the player has played themselves into first round money?  If there is a solution to that, then yes... just adopt the hockey model.

Not sure what is finicky about saying 'this player was told he'd be gone by the third round and is not eligible to be drafted in the fourth'.  

On the basketball side, if guys like Wagner and Wilson are given first round grades and decide they are satisfied with that, they should go.  But they should be allowed to come back if that promise is not fulfilled by the NBA.  Michigan wins and so does the kid.  Also, the NBA is relatively unaffected.  This only hurts 4 year guys a bit, as a young guy may be prioritized late in a round to ensure that he goes pro, while the older guy that would have been drafted is pushed out.  But thems the breaks.


April 7th, 2017 at 12:51 PM ^

Isn't that what they do in MLB. The team can draft a player and have their rights for that year, but then if the player doesn't want to go play baseball they then re-enter the draft the following year?

At least this way it would give a team an idea of what the kid might do if they get a Late 1st draft grade and the team decides to draft them in the 2nd round. The team then understands they are taking a flyer on a kid and knows they might just be out that pick if it doesn't work out between the two. Would also give the kid a little more power in terms of guranteed money if they wanted to go back to college but the team said they were going to make the team no matter what. 

I see it as a win win.


April 7th, 2017 at 12:56 PM ^

depends on high school or college.  i think if you're a highschooler and you get drafted, if you don't sign you have to go to college for two years. as a college player you can get drafted and sign or not sign, but then you go back into the draft the next year. The challenge is that it works against people who have risk of not signing because they get drafted later and then they're slotted into a certian amount of money.  It's not an ideal system, but there are so many players and options with the college or minor leagues that it tends to work itself out.

Blue Baughs

April 7th, 2017 at 1:28 PM ^

The NBA wasn't a 2 round draft.  Baseball drafts for 40 rounds. Hockey for 7.

I just dont see the NBA being ok with a player walking if they dont get drafted where they wanted.


April 7th, 2017 at 1:24 PM ^

I think the problem would be somewhat solved inherently. Whether the player goes pro or returns to college is really up to both the team and the player--if the player has blown up, I think they'd be able to negotiate the pay that would get them to play in the pros. It's not perfect; a graduating senior doesn't have much leverage, and even other players wouldn't really get their full value since they don't have multiple teams competing for them. But I think it would still be worthwhile since almost destroys the chances of leaving school early and not getting the pay that you thought. If I recall correctly, baseball works in a similar fashion.

If the NCAA were serious about students' interests in this case, I think they could even work with the NFL and NBA to make exceptions in those two sports, with negotiated terms. As Brian as suggested, you could require a guarantee that the athlete is paid in the pros for at least as long as they have left in college (i.e. pull a student from college after sophomore year and you're on the hook for two years of pay). The NBA/NFL would have to agree to that, but I think they'd prefer the flexibility of being able to draft players still in college, since they can take risks with developing players that they'd leave in college.


April 7th, 2017 at 12:53 PM ^

Is ineligibility a possibility if you just seek a draft grade?  I thought you could get a grade without committting to the draft. I think the biggest variable is that you never really know who's coming out until later in the cycle and it's such a small pool of guys that will get drafted.  So they might give you a better prediction than your draft position because the pool gets better.

Also, I think that if you don't hire an agent you might be able to enter the pool and then go back to school if you don't get drafted high enough.  it's risky because you probably don't get drafted highly if you don't hire an agent because you could always back out.  I think that's the big incentive for the league to keep the system the way it is because second rounders would opt to go back to school if they could.  Maybe that's not a bad thing.



April 7th, 2017 at 12:55 PM ^

Seeking a draft grade doesn't make you ineligible.  Hiring an agent does.  Once you get a grade, there is a drop dead date (not sure what it is) where you have to declare you are entering the draft or going back to school.

Ali G Bomaye

April 7th, 2017 at 1:14 PM ^

I couldn't disagree more, for two reasons.

First, the current system is too restrictive as it is. If a guy like Leonard Fournette is physically ready to truck NFL DBs at age 19, why not let him?  Chances are, his career will be over or winding down by the time he's 30, so every year you require him to spend in college is a reduction of something like 10% in his potential career earnings. One more year in the NFL is many times more valuable to him than some bullshit degree in communications or whatever.

Second, if your system were in place, there would be a proliferation of places like UNC getting guys "degrees" in three years that are virtually worthless. A school like Michigan, where students actually need to work to earn a degree that is legitimately valuable, wouldn't be able to compete against shitty schools guaranteeing kids that they can earn a sports management degree in three years and move on to the league. I'd rather have a system that respects the value of the degree, even if not all guys get it, than one where the degree is just a hurdle to be cleared.


April 7th, 2017 at 1:57 PM ^

I would rather we go back to the days of HS players able to declare for the NBA draft. Some will be fine and many will fail but at least it will end the one and done farce of kids taking a few courses and pretending to be a part of the university when it was probably shady money that drew them there anyway.

The People's Jones

April 7th, 2017 at 1:12 PM ^

who's draft grades?  if these talking heads were so smart, they would be paid millions to work for organizations.  yes, i know guys like kiper get paid millions already, but they aren't sitting there alone drawing up these boards. 


April 7th, 2017 at 1:41 PM ^

I could see that if there is an established draft grade, you didn't hire an agent and you don't get drafted at all, then you could opt to go back to your college.


April 7th, 2017 at 2:07 PM ^

I think it's fine that players still have that week and a half or so to actually declare they wish to remain in school actually. As it is, you can get that baseline at the combine and then make a decision either way, and then do so again potentially, I believe, until your eligibility runs out. That seems like a fair system right now, but the OP's would make for an interesting insurance policy for some kids. 


April 7th, 2017 at 3:01 PM ^

You and the OP are assuming the coach is going to leave those scholarships open through the draft.  

Use Wagner and Wilson as examples in the OPs scenario.  They get their draft grade and decide to go through with the draft to see if they'll be drafted in line with their grade.  What's Beilein supposed to do - leave those scholarships open until the end of June and see what happens with Wilson and Wagner?  If Beilein holds those scholarships for Wilson and Wagner and they get drafted in line with their grade and go pro, Beilein is now scrambling to fill those scholarships   If Beilein fills those scholarships before the draft and one or both of Wilson/Wagner do not get drafted, they are SOL.


April 7th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

If a player declares himself eligible for the draft they have until their name is called to withdraw.  So if you think you're a first rounder and dont get picked day 1 you can withdraw that night.  Same goes for rounds 2 & 3 and then 4-6.  If you make yourself eligible and you're selected your in but if you get through the day without being selected you have he option to withdraw from the next round of the draft.

Now THAT would add some intregue to the night after the round ended.  Who's staying in and who's removing themselves from consideration.  Might also put pressure on teams to not wait to get somebody they liked cause if they fell too far they'd pull themselves out of consideration for the next round.


April 7th, 2017 at 5:10 PM ^

I would say this. All sports should adopt the NHL model when it comes to the draft.

Wait until age 18.

Draft them anytime you want after that.

Watch them with your pro scouts.

When you think they are ready, sign them.


April 8th, 2017 at 11:54 AM ^

I'd prefer the NHL model and don't really like the idea of a gauranteed draft position.

The rules for the NBA and NFL drafts exist to protect the income of NCAA and the professional leagues.  They do not exist to protect the players or promote their success.  That being said a change toward the NHL model or this model is probably never going to happen.

Also, it doesn't really bother me when a young man doesn't get drafted or doesn't get drafted where he thought he should.  That's part of growing into a mature adult and not getting the job you thought you had in the bag.  Make the most of what you get and become a HoF undrafted free agent or win 5 super bowls after getting drafted in the 6th round.