The NFL announced that juniors who declare for the NFL draft will be eligible for pre-draft All-Star games for the first time this offseason. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league sent the memo to all teams on Wednesday to make the news official.
Previously, only former seniors were able to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game and the HBCU Legacy Bowl as long as the game invited them to play. However, juniors who were declared for the draft early had to sit out the bowl games and focus on the combine instead.
Last year, 69 underclassmen entered the draft early.
The Senior Bowl has operated since 1950 as the premier All-Star game for draft-eligible players to impress teams ahead of the draft process, while the East-West Shrine Game has been played since 1925. Both games are played the week in between the NFL’s conference championships and the Super Bowl.
The HBCU Legacy Bowl is the newest of the three games, as it played its inaugural game in 2022 and takes place after the Super Bowl. It features the best draft-eligible players who played at HBCUs.