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Number of underclassmen requesting draft grade dips sharply

The issue of record-breaking numbers of underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft might be diminishing thanks to recent changes to the NFL's feedback system for such players.

The number of college underclassmen that have requested an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board is down a staggering 42 percent from last year, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent revealed in a tweet Thursday.

The precipitous drop likely stems from a change to NFL policy regarding the feedback system for underclassmen. NFL Media's Albert Breer noted the changes to the system in July, reporting that college football programs would be limited to requesting feedback on behalf of five underclassmen. Previously, there had been no limit to the number of underclassmen that could request a grade.

Another potential reason for the big drop could be the cautionary tale from this year's draft. Of the record-setting 98 underclassmen that were granted eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft, a whopping 45 went undrafted. That number prompted further calls from coaches and others for players to think long and hard before making the jump from college to the pro ranks as underclassmen.

A number of this year's college juniors and redshirt sophomores have already announced they will be returning to school for the 2015 season but have still requested an evaluation to get a better understanding of where they stand with league evaluators. The deadline to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft is not until after the bowl season, on Jan. 15, and we won't know the official number of underclassmen granted eligibility for the draft until Jan. 19.

However, the numbers tweeted out by Vincent show that the new streamlined process is working and could indicate a smaller number of underclassmen will be available in the draft when it rolls around from April 30-May 2.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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