Ricky Santos, the record-setting quarterback for the University of New Hampshire, was denied an opportunity to display his skills in front of NFL coaches and scouts at Boston College’s Pro Day last week. The NFL apparently requires that a player eligible for Pro Day either attend college in the same state or live within a certain distance (30 miles, I believe) from the school at which the particular Pro Day is held. Santos hails from Bellingham, Massachusetts, located about 38 miles from BC’s Chestnut Hill campus.
After failing to garner an invite to the NFL combine despite a reportedly solid showing in the Hula Bowl, BC’s Pro Day would have provided Santos the opportunity to work out in front of representatives of 22 NFL teams. Santos was initially invited to work out at BC by Eagles Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski. The NFL, however, did not allow Santos to participate, over the protestations of his agent Brad Blank:
“It would have been a real opportunity for him…We looked into it, and the league explained that Bellingham is not in a major metropolitan region, as explained by Rand McNally. It’s a shame.”
After having been left out in the cold by the NFL, Santos was left to work out in a dusty indoor track at UNH (as opposed to BC’s indoor facility), with scouts from a mere 3 teams (Eagles, Patriots and Steelers) in attendance.
The NFL’s application of this rule appears to accomplish little, besides denying Santos the opportunity to get a legitimate NFL tryout. Consider the following:
Santos’ hometown of Bellingham is 38 miles from BC, while UMass-Amherst, which sent 7 players to BC’s Pro Day, is approximately 85 miles from BC;
William Green, a former BC player originally from New Jersey, who last played for the Cleveland Browns, attended Pro Day and worked out at BC; and
Because of the presence of Matt Ryan, the consensus top QB in the draft, the coaches and scouts in attendance not only represented 22 teams, but represented 22 teams that were presumably interested in drafting a quarterback. Wouldn’t the NFL coaches and scouts prefer seeing 2 quarterbacks perform rather than 1?
I simply cannot discern the NFL’s rationale for this rule. I could understand if there was concern that players would be Pro Day-shopping, searching for the most advantageous location. I could also understand a concern for unqualified players looking to attend Pro Day on a lark. But in Santos’ case, he is from Massachusetts. There is no comparable Pro Day at UNH or anywhere closer than BC. Moreover, people believe that Santos can play – as evidenced by his invitation to BC. What could be wrong with a special invitation for a local player like Santos? Wouldn’t scouts rather see him at BC and save the trip to UNH?
In practice, it appears that the players hurt by the NFL’s rule are those on the fringe of the NFL draft, like Santos. The top prospects have plenty of opportunities to display their talents at the NFL combine and their own school’s Pro Day. Nevertheless, here’s hoping that Santos gets a real shot to prove his worth in the NFL.