Most American boys grow up envisioning themselves playing for a franchise in a major professional sports league. The National Football League is the most popular and one of the most successful pro leagues in the United States across the globe, so it’s no surprise that youngsters desire to play here.
The NFL is where dreams come true: we’ve seen little lads morph into huge football superstars and become celebrity figures. The likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson all started as little boys with an aspiration to become elite professional footballers, and they did so in style.
It begs the question: what does it take to make it to the most preeminent Pro football league in the world? The answer is these three things: talent, hard work, and a sheer bit of luck.
Road to the Pros: What Is the Easiest & Best Way to the NFL as a Player?
The road to becoming a professional footballer isn’t an easy one, and will also require a lot of patience, focus, sacrifice, and perseverance from you. For most kids who are multitalented, playing in the NFL means leaving behind other sports of interest like basketball, baseball, and hockey.
Picking an interest in football at an early age is almost a sure recipe for making it to the league. Most professional footballers start as high school or college players before they get drafted by one of the 32 NFL teams.
Players need to fulfill the NFL’s eligibility criteria before they can be drafted into the league. It’s, therefore, good for aspiring youngsters to familiarize themselves with the eligibility requirements; it would help them stay on course as they move up the ranks of becoming professional football players.
Where the Journey Begins
Most NFL players started their journey in middle school or junior high. While some might have featured in private leagues, it’s usually rare.
The early stages of a football career are where the basics are learned, and it usually starts as early as middle school. Although there’s still a lot to learn, young talents and the middle school stage are usually spotted and funneled to high school programs where they can be nurtured.
High School Football
Future NFL stars usually emerge during this phase. Biologically speaking, boys develop most of their pro-football height and size in senior high. That’s where their prospective talents become conspicuous.
NFL scouts spend a considerable amount of time scouting high school players who will be fit to play in the league. The statistics show that about 1.2% of high school players who proceed to play college football end up getting drafted into the NFL. These are low NFL odds because only about 6% of high school players make it to college football.
High school players in other professional sports like baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer have a much higher chance of making it to their professional league than football. Talent, hard work, and a sheer bit of luck remember?
According to league rules, prospective draftees can only declare for the draft after three years of their graduation. It implies that most NFL players spend some time with a college program before moving to the league.
College football teams recruit the strongest and most talented high school players to represent their program in nationwide or statewide football tournaments.
NFL scouts focus most of their attention on college prospects; therefore, if you want a shot at making it to the NFL, take this phase seriously. Spending three or four years in college before declaring for draft might help you up to your resume.
The National Football League Scouting Combine is your last shot to impress NFL teams before Draft Night. It’s a week-long camp where over 300 college prospects are invited to showcase their talents. It’s usually held in February at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Players get examined for physicality and mentality in front of league coaches, GMs, and team scouts. Some of the evaluations include; the 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jumps, shuttle (20 and 60 yards), bench pressing of 225 lb, 3-cone drill, Wonderlick tests, positional drills, injury examination, drug tests, and isokinetic tests. NFL teams will also be allowed a maximum of 60 interviews for 15 minutes each.
The NFL Scouting Combine is strictly by invitation; therefore, being a top-ranked college prospect can increase your chances of being invited to the camp. Players who pass the evaluation excellently are more likely to rank higher in the draft.
Finally, while some players make it to the NFL as undrafted free agents, the odds are generally low.