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How will the postponement of college football for the Big Ten, Pac-12 affect the NFL Draft?

Two of the biggest conferences won’t be playing until the spring, if at all. Let’s speculate on the implications

This past Tuesday, two of the biggest college football conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, officially announced they would be postponing the season in the hopes of playing sometime in the spring. This came on the heels of the MAC conference announcing that they would shut down all fall sports. While the other Power Five conferences—the Big 12, the ACC and the SEC—say they will be playing fall football, this move will nonetheless create ripple effects across not only the college football landscape, but also the NFL by way of the NFL Draft.

Obviously, the most immediate reaction to these postponements will be certain players opting to transfer, which would require a waiver from the NCAA, unless a player has already graduated and can therefore play immediately for their new team under NCAA regulations. The NCAA could also decide that a player transferring due to their conferences postponing the season is grounds to play immediately. But at the end of the day, it’s questionable just how many transfers will occur, when the receiving schools need to have a scholarship and a position on their team available to incoming players. Certainly, you make room for a Justin Fields or a Penei Sewell, but probably not for Arizona State safety Evan Fields.

So mass transfers are a possibility, but what about the draft prospects who remain? NFL scouting departments won’t be getting much sleep, as they will be going to the Senior Bowl, the Combine and conducting player interviews also while ostensibly seeing the Big Ten and Pac-12 players play live football. But at least that would be a type of normalcy for the players themselves—although I would expect many of the more well-regarded prospects to skip spring football and just declare for the draft. If the seasons are fully cancelled, then the prospects don’t get a chance to improve their draft stock at all. Such a scenario would result in underclassmen staying for another year or two—in the hopes of getting another chance to impress scouts—and seniors, quite frankly, would be up a creek.

Having only two conferences delay their season makes it more unlikely that the NFL will adjust its calendar. The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled for April 29 through May 1, however the NFL can delay the draft all the way until June 3, according to the most recent CBA. For #springfootball to actually work, a delay might become obligatory.