As thunder clouds gather on the college football horizon, the fall season seems to be in growing jeopardy. One option seems to be moving play into the spring, when presumably players, coaches and schools would find a safer playing field. If it happens,  it’s almost a certainty a large number of top players will choose not to play and to move straight to the NFL Draft, presuming it remains an April 2021 affair.

All of which begs this question: how many elite prospects, from seniors to redshirt sophomores, could reasonably skip their last seasons of play without damaging their respective draft statuses? 

We asked scouts, agents and all-star game directors that we respect across the game. These are the answers we got.

  • “I would expect 10-20 guys. I think there will absolutely be some of the top guys. I think agents are going to get in their ear too. . . I think some will absolutely opt out, but there is still going to be pressure from teammates to play the season and rep the program. It’ll be interesting.”
  • “Probably 40 or so. Damn good players, locks to go no later than Round 2 if they’ve already played their last down. They’ve already played their last game.”
  • “15-20.”
  • “Maybe 20-30. But there will be hundreds who believe that they’ll be impacted and decide to jump.” 
  • “Heading into the season, I would think it would be closer to 30 kids who have done enough to solidify their draft position off their body of work, but the vast majority of guys need additional verification or opportunity to rise. The preseason lists are full of hyped seniors who go on to become low free agents after being exposed, as a warning.”
  • “Too many unanswerable questions right now. SEC is a mess and not even going to visit on protocol again until (July 28), I hear. Too many “hot spots” around the country to make general rules, and regular kids not even back on campus yet, if they’ll be allowed at all!”

The consensus seems to be 20-30 players, i.e., most of the first round. Of course, trying to guess how many players in total will opt out is almost impossible, and could easily range into the hundreds.

Give us your best guess on Twitter, and later today, find out who we think the 20-30 players are that might be able to go from the 2019 season to the 2021 draft with no ill effects. It will be in today’s Friday Wrap, and you can register for it here.