While much of the country watches the labor negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA (now the professional trade association) and figures that this will get resolved at some point before it impacts the season, it is having a direct impact on some pro prospects right now. Colleges typically host “Pro Days” which afford all of a school’s players interested in pursuing a career in professional football—not just the NFL but the CFL, Arena League, etc.—an opportunity to display their skills in front of scouts.
Some of a school’s stars may have already participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, but for those who aren’t as highly touted their school’s Pro Day is their only real post-season tryout. The individuals who were at the NFL Combine may elect to run through specific drills again depending upon their performance previously; if a player ran a “slow” 40 yard sprint in Indianapolis, he would have the option of running this test again. It is not uncommon for an individual to skip certain tests in Indianapolis because of an injury and thereby elect to participate at their college’s Pro Day.
So who is getting hurt? Well it now appears that because of the labor impasse the NFL will only allow those individuals who are eligible for the 2011 NFL draft to participate. However, often schools will allow their players, who for whatever reason were not selected in the previous year’s draft, to return to campus and participate in Pro Day. If a player was injured, or made it to a training camp without being drafted and didn’t make a roster, a school’s Pro Day gives them one more chance to tryout in front of NFL scouts.
However, since these players were not drafted in previous years, through the NFL’s eyes they are free agents. As such, contact is now forbidden and these players will be unable to participate in their school’s Pro Day.