July 22, 2024

I’M LEAVING: KANSAS CITY SHOOTING ANDY REID HAS SIGNED UP A CONTRACT TO LEAVE KANSAS CITY AND HEADING FOR ANOTHER TEAM…

From 2016-2022, more than 100 early entrants — players three years removed from their high school graduating class — had entered the draft. Brett Veach knows why. “This is just the NIL effect,” the Chiefs general manager said. Colleges athletes can profit from their name, image and likeness. Those numbers aren’t public. The NFL minimum salary for a rookie in 2024 is $795,000. An NIL deal might not approach that figure, but it could be good enough for the player to remain in school and perhaps improve his draft stock.

This is making the 2024 draft “older” than previous editions over the past decade. To Veach, that will be especially evident in the middle to late rounds. “Typically when you’re working through the fourth, fifth and six rounds,” he noted, “there’s always interesting prospects and small-school guys.” But now the Chiefs and other NFL teams are seeing those candidates as older players. “They have the opportunity to stay in school,” Veach said. “So we have to work a little bit harder to find some young guys with upside that you really like.”

NIL became policy with a Supreme Court ruling in 2021. In the ensuing NFL Draft, held in April 2022, 100 underclassmen entered the draft, 28 fewer than the previous year. The number dropped to 82 in 2023. Among the underclassmen in this year’s draft, which begins on Thursday, are Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. and Kansas edge Austin Booker. Also affecting the profile of this year’s draft is the extra year of eligibility granted to college players because of the COVID-shortened 2020 season. It’s paid, figuratively and literally, for athletes to stay in school.

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