On May 8, when the much-anticipated day rolls around, the NFL draft will have a record 30 NFL prospects attending the event. In recent years, the number of attendees has been steadily increasing. Last year the number was 23. Not more than a handful of years ago, it used to be that only the most marquee named players, and sure-fire top draft picks were invited to sit in the green room on draft day. However, with the popularity of the NFL always on the rise, and the depth of this years draft class. It appears that the NFL now wishes to put as many potential first round picks in New York City’s Music City Hall as they possibly can.
The list features some of the names one would expect. Quarterbacks Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and Blake Bortles (UCF) and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) are all considered the main candidates to be selected by the Houston Texans with the number one overall pick.
As one would also expect, with the NFL draft having a record 30 NFL prospects attending, there is also the likely scenario that multiple players attending will have to sit through the entirety of the first round on Thursday evening without hearing their name called. Forcing them to return for day two of the draft, which will be held on Friday afternoon.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now one of those players running the risk of being turned away in round one. Which is quite shocking, considering that just six months ago, most felt that it was the consensus that Bridgewater was the top quarterback prospect in the draft. However, in what scouts felt was a poor showing at the combine and in his pro-day, he has watched his draft stock fall dramatically just over the past couple of months.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was one of the more surprising names to receive an invite. Most expert mock drafts do not have Garoppolo being taken in the first round. In fact, in just the opposite fashion as Bridgewater, towards the end of his final season in college, Garoppolo had hardly made a name for himself in the mainstream football world. As a quarterback who did not play his college ball at a division 1-A school, most football fans probably could not have even told you who he was, let alone predict that he would be amongst the top quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft.
However, after finishing his career at Eastern Illinois by breaking passing records that were held by current Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Tony Romo, and having a top-notch showing at his pro day and in the combine, Garoppolo’s stock has continued to rise dramatically over the past four months. NFL scouts praise Garoppolo’s physical tools along with his near flawless mechanics, and a quick release that experts and analysts alike have been raving about.
Not surprisingly, the SEC leads the way with 11 players invited amongst the record 30 prospects attending the NFL Draft. This is followed by the ACC and Big Ten conferences with five each, while the American Athletic Conference will be represented by three players in attendance. Both Alabama and Texas A&M will be the most well represented individual schools, both sending three prospects a piece to attend the record-breaking NFL draft.
Commentary by Richard Glenn