Do You Have to Play College Football to Get Into the NFL?

It isn’t a requirement to play college football to get into the NFL but it has many advantages.

Playing college football can help to give you valuable experience and make you more mature. If you do get into the NFL, it is helpful to already have a college degree. This will help you to find a new career when your NFL days are over.

NFL Requirements

You must be a high school graduate to be part of the NFL. You must also be out of high school for at least three years to be considered for the league. Most NFL prospects do play college football but there are some that become pros without doing so. You will need strength, stamina, and ambition to play professional football. Having an education is an added advantage.

If you’re a football player who wants to attend college you will need to write a college application essay. Highly popular among students, EduBirdie online, is a professional service that can help you if you are having trouble doing so. Professional writers understand the admission requirements. Their essay writing skills enable them to craft an essay that highlights your character and strengths. You have unlimited free revisions and 24/7 support. The writer will provide you with a unique essay written from scratch that you can submit on time.

Related: List of All NFL Teams

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Requirements

To play college football, you must comply with certain academic requirements. The NCAA has stricter academic requirements than the NFL. It prioritizes academic performance. You need to graduate from high school having completed certain courses. You must have at least a 2.2 GPA in these courses and acceptable ACT or SAT scores to get into a Division 1 school.

Once in college, you must continue to meet academic requirements. This includes getting a minimum GPA and percentage-of-degree requirements. For example, as a Division I school athlete, you must have a 2.0 GPA and meet 60% of your degree requirement before your fourth year in college.

NFL Drafts

Every season NFL drafts take place. Each of the clubs gets one pick on each of the seven rounds of the draft. There is no minimum age that makes you eligible for the draft. Some players can become part of the league as early as the age of 19 or 20. If you are drafted, you can’t play for any college but only in the NFL. If you are undrafted, you can return to play for your college.

You are only eligible for the draft in the year after the end of your college eligibility. You may request the league’s approval to enter the draft early if you’re an underclassman or have graduated before using all your college eligibility.

NCAA compliance departments at schools work with the NFL to confirm the eligibility of draft prospects. If you are an underclassman, you have until seven days after the NCAA National Championship Game to declare your intentions to enter the draft early. 

Getting into the NFL isn’t easy. Only a small percentage of college players are selected in the draft.

What Percentage of College Football Players Make it to the NFL?

Each year (from the NCAA’s website) about 16,380 college players are eligible for the NFL Draft. The NFL drafts 254 players in any given draft. 254/16,380 is around 1.6 percent.

Out of them, only a few ever get a chance to play on the field. Players may be assigned to practice squads where they get a fixed salary but they aren’t guaranteed a contract.

The percentage of high school football players making the NFL is equally striking. According to data released by Ohio State, there were 1,083,308 high school participants in 2016, and 73,660 or nearly 6.8% of them got the chance to compete in NCAA.

Out of those 1,083,308 high school football players, 251 made it to the NFL. Do the sad math and you can see that the percentage of high school student-athletes going pro is approximately 0.023%.

The Importance of Education Afterlife in the NFL

Your career as an NFL player only lasts for about three years on average. Your degree could help you to find a career and continue to generate money after you retire.

If you are a former school athlete the school may offer you a scholarship to ensure that you get a degree. Some schools will work with NFL athletes in the off-season to help them obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees. 

The NFL Players Association can make it more affordable for you to go back to school by offsetting tuition costs to make it more affordable. If you want to go into a football-related career such as becoming a financial advisor or agent you need at least a bachelor’s degree to do so.


If you’re a student who wants to become a professional football player you need to take your academic life as seriously as your football. It is hard to get chosen for the NFL. Only a small percentage of students manage to make it. If you don’t make it, your academic success is essential to help you establish a good career. If you do get chosen for the NFL, you only have a limited time to play. A degree could help you to pursue another career afterward.

Author’s Bio

Cory Shilling is a perfect example of why experience matters and how dedication is important in the writing field. He loves spending time in the field which gives him a better understanding of the job at hand. Interacting with students gives him insights into doing essays and dissertations better and how to make them perfect to get high grades.