College football all-star games to allow NFL draft-eligible juniors

In a long-awaited change for some in the scouting community, NFL officials sent a memo to all 32 teams Wednesday to inform them that juniors who formally declare for April's NFL draft will now be allowed to participate in college football postseason all-star games, sources told ESPN.

Previously, only juniors who had already graduated could participate in the all-star games.

The letter, sources said, stated that juniors who formally have declared for the draft could participate, if invited, in the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game and the HBCU Legacy Bowl.

This past year, players who had been out of high school for at least three seasons had to formally submit their requests for special eligibility to enter the NFL draft by Jan. 16, and the list of the 69 players who were granted eligibility was given to teams Jan. 20.

Players arrived for the East-West Game on Jan. 26 for weigh-in and practices. Players arrived for Senior Bowl practices on Jan. 30. The HBCU Legacy Bowl held two padded practices for the players ahead of the Feb. 25 game.

In last year's draft, 62 underclassmen were selected, with 19 of those going in the first round.