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What to Expect - Pre-Draft Process

Here are some key dates to look for as NFL team draft boards take shape

Dave Syvertsen
01/10/2024 5:32AM ET

Over half the league will join the rest of us watching the playoffs from home. Their seasons are complete, and they will not be competing for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. The coaching fires have begun, the free agency rumors are already swirling, and several players are wondering if they will be franchise tagged or even traded. The NFL is king because the offseason will drum up as much interest as the games themselves. There are a lot of dates to track and things to look forward to but let’s take a look at the key ingredients within the pre-NFL Draft process.

 

UNDERCLASSMAN DEADLINE (1/15)

The final day an underclassman can declare for the 2024 NFL Draft is on January 15. Any player that spent three or more years out of high school can declare and sign with an agent. This can be a true junior or a redshirt sophomore. 

 

SHRINE GAME (2/1) & SENIOR BOWL (2/4)

Each of these games has a scouting staff that spends the entire summer and fall looking at hundreds of players and conversing with NFL teams about who they want to see. The combination of evaluations and discussions bring well over 100 players per game to showcase their talent against each other in a week full of monitored practices and then of course,  the game. Equally important is noting how they interact with new coaches out of their comfort zone in addition to several interactions with evaluators from the league.

 

NFL SCOUTING COMBINE (3/2-3/5)

The NFL will invite over 300 NFL Draft prospects to Indianapolis to showcase their physical and mental ability in controlled setting. They will be measured (height, weight, arm length, hand size, wingspan), athletically tested (40 time, 3-cone, shuttles, bench press, vertical leap, broad jump), and put through specific position drills on the field without pads on. They will also go through rigorous medical and intelligence testing protocols in addition to several scheduled interviews with teams. 

 

PRO DAYS (Early March – Early April)

There are several NFL prospects that do not get invited to the Scouting Combine. Rams defensive tackle and 2023 third round pick Kobie Turner led all rookies in sacks. He was not invited lasat March. Thus, players such as Turner and several others need to do their workout and meetings with teams at their school’s Pro Day. It is a hectic time period for NFL front offices, as there are Pro Days essentially every day for about a month.

 

TOP 30 VISITS (April)

For any unanswered questions and unchecked boxes, this is a team’s final shot at meeting with a prospect one on one. They fly up to 30 prospects to their respective team headquarters and have their way with them whether it be physical, mental, medical, or a combination of all at their own place. These are not to be mistaken for top 30 overall prospects. In a lot of cases, they’re simply the prospects they need more information on.