Should college football get canceled, NFL may still hold 2021 draft

Rob Rang

The Covid-19 pandemic could cancel college football in 2020 and the NFL may still opt to hold the 2021 college player draft April 29th through May 1st in Cleveland as currently scheduled.

Even as the Ivy League has pushed fall athletics to the spring and the Big Ten has canceled all out-of-conference play (as well as the Pac-12), the NFL is currently “planning on holding the draft on the same dates as planned,” a senior executive for one of the league’s 32 teams confirmed to NFLDraftScout.com on Friday.

That is important to note as the NFL has long held a unique three-year removal from one’s high school graduating class as its only real requirement for early admission into the draft, not experience playing at the college level, as some might presume.

As such, any players who would have played this year and gained that eligibility will still, technically, have it, should the college football season be canceled outright.

That is key as it guarantees that some star players with just one season of real playing time – like projected Top 10 prospects Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields or Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau, for example – would be eligible.

“The NFL is still working on a starting plan [for its own season], with the draft not something I think they are actively considering yet,” the source continued, along with some interesting speculation.

“It will be interesting to see if players are – or should – be granted an extra year and/or given the choice to go to the draft or go back for another season.”

Should FBS teams follow the Ivy League's direction and delay their seasons, the NFL would likely push their draft back, as well, perhaps to approximately a year from now, when the league normally holds its annual supplemental draft. 

This year's supplemental draft, of course, was canceled, itself, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With the draft still currently planned, NFL scouts are already looking ahead to the talent which might be available. 

That is why NFLDraftScout.com has been providing our readers daily preview of the top players for each of college football's Power Five teams, starting with powerhouse Clemson and the rest of the ACC, as well as the Field's Buckeyes and the rest of the Big Ten, including today's look at Wisconsin's newest star linebacker. 

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