Over the last several decades, all-star games have allowed senior prospects to showcase their abilities in front of NFL scouts and decision-makers. Until 2024, only seniors have been able to participate in such showcases.
In 1990, the NFL allowed underclassmen in college to declare for the NFL Draft, a move that changed the landscape of college scouting forever. It has opened the door for high-level prospects, clearly ready for NFL ranks, to forgo their college eligibility to pursue their professional careers – and not risk an additional season of wear and tear on their bodies.
Declaring for the draft and forgoing college eligibility has always been a risk that students have been forced to make informed decisions regarding, understanding the risk they are taking to their professional football careers. According to a league-wide memo, underclassmen can participate in three All-Star games – the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, the East/West Shrine Bowl in Frisco, Texas, and the HBCU Legacy Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana.
When can all-star games invite underclassmen to their game?
All-Star games will not be able to formally invite any underclassmen until the league office releases the approved declarations on January 9th, 2024. That means that most juniors will probably skip on the games anyways, as most all-star rosters will be pretty much completed by then.
Currently, most high profile senior prospects skip All-Star games to focus on their training for the NFL Combine. I think it can be assumed that many of the top juniors will do the same. The ones that will go to all star games will be in the back half of the NFL Draft, trying to make the leap.
What will this new underclassman rule potentially do to the draft?
First of all, everything is speculation at how this rule will impact the draft – regardless of what any high profile draft analyst may tell you. We’re all guessing how this will go. That being said, lets try to remain informed on the situation.
- Last year, 69 underclassmen, including all top ten picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, entered the draft as three-year college students.
- The number of early declarations had stedily risen over the first twenty years but started to drop over the last two or three years.
- As of now, the Shrine Bowl will not be expanding their rosters, as game director Eric Galko explained on a Twitter Space, Thursday. The Senior Bowl is not anticipated to make any expansion either.
So with all of this information collected, how many juniors can we expect to see in the all-star games?
In my opinion, I don’t think we will see more than 40 juniors a season between the three all star games.
What does that mean for the Seniors who would normally man those roster spots?
There are still a lot of all-star games that weren’t specifically sanctioned by the NFL. The Hula Bowl and the Trpoical Bowl, both held in Orlando, Florida, and the College Gridiron Showcase in San Antonio, Texas, will have opportunities to host these additional seniors, but overall it doesn’t do much to create a ripple effect across the all-star circuit.
Overall, it shouldn’t see so much of an impact across the games. We will see how this new rule will play out!