The NFL’s College Advisory Committee is the group that annually accepts applications from college juniors and redshirt sophomores seeking guidance on whether or not they should enter the draft early. Though they’re often criticized in football circles for not always being accurate about their predictions, the results tell a very different story.

As players this time of year are weighing their fortunes pretty heavily, we talked to Cara Luterek about the nuts and bolts of the process. Cara spent more than a decade working in the NFL’s personnel office, with a special focus on the committee. That means she knows what she’s doing when it comes to the process, so we asked her about it. Our questions and her answers follow.

What’s the process for submitting a request? Who does it go to? Is there one specific point of contact? Must it be submitted via a specific protocol (In writing? Fill out a certain form? Faxed to a certain number)?

Eligible underclassmen may request a CAC evaluation after the conclusion of their respective college football regular seasons. A player must submit an evaluation request through his head coach, pro liaison, or (director of football operations). The college official submits the request electronically through a league office website. Players must also sign a printed form and that page is uploaded to the website as well.

Who (specifically) can apply for a player’s draft advisory board review? Does it have to be a certain person (i.e., relative, coach, school administrator)? Can an agent do it on a player’s behalf (I get a lot of questions about this)?

All requests must be submitted by the player’s head coach or a representative on his behalf — typically the college’s pro liaison or (director of football operations). If a player contacts the NFL office directly, he will be instructed to go through his college. An agent should direct the player to speak with his head coach or liaison.

Does the number of requests typically increase as the deadline nears? Lots of procrastination?

The requests typically come in on a rolling basis. In past years, additional requests do come in toward the end. Sometimes media attention or teammates receiving evaluations back sparks additional requests.

How long does a grade typically take? Does it take longer the later the request is submitted?

Grades are returned by the committee on a rolling basis. It may take 10 days or longer. Requests that are submitted early are typically returned quickly. NFL personnel evaluators may have more flexibility in early December with the college season ending than they do in later December with bowl games.

More about the process tomorrow.