Things NFL Draft Prospects can do to improve draft odds due to COVID-19

I have received questions from players on what they can do since the 2021 NFL Draft process was interrupted due to COVID-19.  Many senior prospects didn’t have a “Junior Day” because campus where shut down before BLETSO or National Football scouts, the two scouting services the NFL uses, could get on campus. 

1.       Get your own measurements – As we saw before the 2020 NFL Draft, guys did their own Pro Day testing, so that scouts could get the information.  If you are able to do your own height/weight/40, etc, you should do it, and be honest about everything.  Even if one scouts get that information, see it on Twitter, You Tube, etc there are advantages.  One they might do more research on you as a player and make sure they keep an eye on you.  Two they will see you are serious about football and the next level process. Three you will know where you are at and how you can improve before the NFL combine, or your Pro Day in 2021.  If you are not on the mock draft projected as a 1st round pick, you can use all the help you can get, especially if you are not from a Power 5 conference school.    

2.       Check Your Eligibility – With COVID-19 and schools going to online classes, some school grading has been changed from normal grade scales.  But if a prospect is not going to be eligible in the fall, he would want to look into the NFL Supplemental Draft process.  The NFL has said it will not change the requirements for the Supplemental Draft due to COVID-19, so there isn’t expected to be a higher number of players allowed in it, but something to check out to make sure you know where you are.

3.       Thinking about Transferring –  There is a possibility that some school will remain online in the fall and because of that the prospect of playing football in the fall would remain unlikely.  The California State University system plans to move forward with virtual classes through the fall semester, and we could see other follow the same thought process. Since transferring down a level (FCS, D2, D3) doesn’t require you to sit out even if you haven’t graduated, for your NFL dreams it will be better to play this season and get film that not getting any film at all and hoping for the best.

4.       Make Sure To Stay in Shape – When/If you get back to being able to go to the school facility you want to make sure you are ready to go.  

NFL “Spring Grades” and the Impact on them due to COVID-19

S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir- Rhyne at the Senior Bowl

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of summer, people normally will get together to BBQ and spend time with family and friends.  It is also normally the official kick-off to the next years NFL Draft scouting process where the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) have their annual meetings in Florida to read their spring grades on the upcoming senior prospects and go over the information that was gathered in the late winter/early spring at “Junior Days” on college campuses.  Which this year due to COVID-19 those “Junior Days” did not happen.  You might ask why does this even matter – I give you S Kyle Dugger.  This time last year most of the football world did not even know who Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne was.  In the 2020 NFL Draft he was the 37th player drafted, the second safety drafted, and the New England Patriots first pick in the draft. 

The last player drafted out of Lenoir-Rhyne was DL John Milem in the 5th round in 2000 by the San Fransico 49ers who played 20 games in the NFL in his career, and before Dugger was Lenoir-Rhyne highest player drafted ever.   So not a hot bed of NFL talent when it comes to Lenoir-Rhyne history, which if you are wondering the school is in Hickory, North Carolina. 

But that is why Junior Days are so import for small school prospects to be able to get on the radar for NFL teams, as well as the NFL Combine and All-Star games like the Senior Bowl in which Duger went to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.   Last spring when BLETSO and National scouts came to Lenoir-Rhyne and did what they normal do with all Senior prospects a school has, getting their height/weight/arm length/hand size as well as some schools allow guys to run the 40.  This past spring Duger was 6005/218 and ran a verified 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.  So with his Junior film and his verified measurements both scouting services gave him a high grade but not close to a grade where he got drafted, but it got him on the radar to get invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine both hugely important for a small school prospect like him.     At the NFL Combine he was 6007/217 and ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, not too much different from his spring numbers.

Without “Junior Days” this year because of COVID – 19 it will be harder for people to identify this year’s Kyle Duger.       

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy Tweet trying to identify next Kyle Dugger

This Memorial Day weekend both BLETSO and National will still hold their “Spring Grade” meeting but after talking with scouts it will be over Zoom instead of in person like normal.  But without “Junior Days” small school prospects will have a harder time then in the past to be truly evaluated and get a legitimate opportunity.  

The grades are just a road map for scouts as we have seen in the past 3 seasons all three number one overall picks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray & Joe Burrow) have come basically out of nowhere since all of them had less then a 4th round grade going into the season when their last season started.   But it is a road map that is need as their are thousands of college football seniors, and the “Spring grades” not only identify who to evaluate but also who the scouts doesn’t need to spend their time evaluating.

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position (2020-2016)

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books here is the average amount of players drafted at each position over the past 5 years (2016-2020) and the highs and lows.

QB – Average amount drafted – 12.4 – High amount drafted 15 (2016) Low amount drafted 10 (2017)

RB– Average amount drafted – 21.8 – High amount drafted 26 (2017) Low amount drafted 18 (2020)

FB – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 3 (2016) Low amount drafted 0 (2020)

WR – Average amount drafted – 32.2 – High amount drafted 35 (2020) Low amount drafted 28 (2019)

TE – Average amount drafted – 13.0 – High amount drafted 16 (2019) Low amount drafted 9 (2016)

OT – Average amount drafted – 20.0 – High amount drafted 23 (2019) Low amount drafted 16 (2017)

OG – Average amount drafted – 12.6 – High amount drafted 18 (2020) Low amount drafted 10 (2018)

C – Average amount drafted – 7.2 – High amount drafted 9 (2020) Low amount drafted 5 (2019)

DE – Average amount drafted – 21.6 – High amount drafted 26 (2019) Low amount drafted 17 (2020, 2016)

DT – Average amount drafted – 20.6 – High amount drafted 22 (2016) Low amount drafted 20 (2020, 2018, 2017)

LB – Average amount drafted – 34.8 – High amount drafted 39 (2018, 2020) Low amount drafted 28 (2017)

CB – Average amount drafted – 30.8 – High amount drafted 34 (2017) Low amount drafted 27 (2020)

S – Average amount drafted – 20.2 – High amount drafted 23 (2017) Low amount drafted 19 (2019, 2018)

K – Average amount drafted – 2.2– High amount drafted 3 (2017, 2020) Low amount drafted 1 (2016)

P – Average amount drafted – 2.2 – High amount drafted 4 (2018) Low amount drafted 0 (2017)

2020 NFL Draft: Senior vs Underclassmen Break-Down

Here is the breakdown for the 2020 NFL Draft between Senior and Underclassmen drafted.

Round by Round:

1st round (32 picks) – Seniors: 9 (28.1%) – Underclassmen: 23 (71.8%)

2nd round (32 picks) – Seniors: 15 (46.8%) – Underclassmen: 17 (53.2%)

3rd round (42 picks) – Seniors: 34 (80.9%) – Underclassmen: 8 (19.0%)

4th round (40 picks) – Seniors: 28 (70.0%) – Underclassmen: 12 (30.0%)

5th round (33 picks) – Seniors: 26 (78.7%) – Underclassmen: 7 (21.2%)

6th round (35 picks) – Seniors: 31 (88.5%) – Underclassmen: 4 (11.4%)

7th round (41 picks) – Seniors: 37 (90.2%) – Underclassmen: 4 (9.7%)

Other Notes:

Top 25 Picks: Seniors: 6 (28.0%) – Underclassmen: 19 (72.0%)

Top 50 Picks: Seniors: 15 (42.0%) – Underclassmen: 35 (58.0%)

Top 100 Picks: Seniors: 51 (50.0%) – Underclassmen: 49 (50.0%)

Top 150 Picks: Seniors: 94 (62.6%) – Underclassmen: 56 (37.3%)

2020 NFL Draft: Conference Breakdown

Overall Picks:

SEC: 63
Big Ten: 48
Pac-12: 32
ACC: 27
Big 12: 21
American: 17
Mount West: 10
C-USA: 10
Independent FBS: 9
Sun Belt: 7
MAC: 2
CAA: 2
MVFC: 2
MIAA:1
MIAC: 1
OVC: 1
SAC: 1
PFL: 1

By 1st round picks:

SEC: 15
Big 10: 5
Big-12: 5
ACC: 3
Pac-12: 3
Mount West: 1

2020 NFL Draft: Non-Power 5 Conference Report

A lot of people believe that the NFL Draft is made up of the Power 5 college football conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC & Pac-12) in college football but that is not totally the case.  If we take a look at the past 5 NFL Draft we see that there are a good amount of draft picks that come from other levels of college football.

2020 NFL Draft (255 picks):

58 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (22.7%)

9 of those 53 Non-FBS

Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love, Utah State – 1st round 26th overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

New England Patriots Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne- 2nd round 37th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.

2019 NFL Draft (254 picks):

53 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (20.8%)

16 of those 53 Non-FBS

Buffalo Bills DT Ed Oliver, Houston – 1st round 9th overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

Houston Texans OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State- 1st round 23rd overall was earlies Non-FBS pick.

2018 NFL Draft (256 picks):

63 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (24.6%)

22 of those 63 Non-FBS

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, Wyoming – 1st round 7th overall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert – 2nd round 49th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.

2017 NFL Draft (253 picks):

43 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (16.9%)

15 of those 43 Non-FBS

Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan – 1st round 5thoverall was earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

Chicago Bears TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland – 2nd round 45th overall was earliest Non-FBS pick.

2016 NFL Draft (253 picks):

57 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (22.5%)

20 of those 57 Non-FBS

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State -1st round 2nd overall was earliest Non-Power 5 and Non-FBS pick.

So just remember if you are in a Power 5 conference there are other guys looking to get drafted just as high as you are and if you are not in a Power 5 conference it doesn’t matter if you can play football the NFL will find you

2020 NFL Draft: All-Star Game Report

College Football All-Star games are part of the pre-draft process that is more important then the NFL Combine and Pro Days because it is football and scouts can evaluate good on good players.  The Senior Bowl is the best all-star game and one that all Senior prospects want to get invited to. Here is the amount of draft picks per all-star games.

Senior Bowl – 93
East-West Shrine Game – 30
NFLPA Bowl – 15
Tropical Bowl – 2
College Gridiron Showcase – 3

Getting invite to an all-star can help out a NFL Draft prospect rise his draft status if he takes advantage.

Why NFL “Spring Grades” are Important to NFL Prospects

When NFL scouts from the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) go into a school to do their junior evaluation in February/March they are looking to grade the NFL draft prospects for the next year’s draft but also to eliminate players as guys who can’t play in the NFL.  Scouts give draftable grades, undrafted free-agent grades and “reject” grades (Not a prospect at this time). The scouts give those players “reject” grades so scout in the fall don’t have to spend time on players who are deemed not NFL players.

The scouting services grade over 13,000 senior college football players each year at all levels of football and normally there are around 600 with draft able or free-agent grades.  True do players with “reject” grades get draft? Yes but it is few and far between.

BLETSO and National have their spring meeting to go over grades around Labor Day time in May to be able to help set the scouts schedule for training camps visits in the summer.  Prospects are not told what their spring grade is by the two scouting services, but normally in the summer the grades get out and agents, financial advisors, media members and all-star games get their hands on them.

What goes into a spring grade:

  1. Junior Film
  2. Height/Weight/Speed – The scouts either get that information when on campus when the measure and weigh the prospect as well as get hand size and arm length. Some school will allow the prospects to run the 40 for the scouts but that is very few and mainly smaller schools. Some schools don’t allow scouts to do height/weight so the scout will just have to estimate the prospect height/weight/40 time.
  3. Background – Scouts will try to get information on prospect past both off the field and medical.

Spring grades are important for a number of reasons:

1. It is a road map for NFL scouts in the fall to where they should spend their most time.

2. National Football Scouting (NFS) runs the NFL Combine so if a player has a good spring grade he is more likely to get invited then if he doesn’t.

3. All-Star games try to get their hands on these grades and use them when they start to invite players to their games.

True as a Senior what you do on the field is most import to your final NFL draft grade, but it doesn’t hurt to start with a good spring grade going into your Senior season.

7 Things an Agent can help a Coach with

When it comes to the business of coaching there is a lot more then just X’s and O’s and having someone on your team that can provide assistant in many different ways can be invaluable. Here are just 7 different things an agent can help their coaching client with.

Social Media Consulting:  An agent can review coach’s social media accounts to make sure they are presenting the best image possible and if they aren’t on a social media platform help them get on it and use it to its best ability possible.

Interview Preparation: An agent can help get coaches prepared for their job interview from everything such as sample interview questions to reviewing their overall plan.

Media & Public Relations:  An agent can help coaches utilize the media and public relations as the ability to get their message out there and help increase their visibility and showcase their skills.

Career Counsel: An agent can be a sounding board with proven-expertise to assist coaches in their all aspects of their career.

Marketing:  An agent can help our coaches identifying potential outside income opportunities that may be available to them, such as public appearances, paid media opportunities, golf outings and more.

Job Placement Support: An agent can work to put their coach in the best position to obtain their desired position through anticipating openings, gathering information, and strategizing in all areas of the search process.

Contract Negotiation: An agent can focus on maximizing their coaches earning potential and professional protection, while the coach can just focus on being the best coach he can be.

How do College Football All-Star Game Invites work?

The question always comes up from coaches, players, parents, agents, etc. – How does a player get invited to play in a game?   I had an opportunity to be in charge of the personnel for all-star games and like all the other people in the all-star game business we are looking for the best player that will have an opportunity to get drafted.  All-Star Games are talking to NFL scouts to see who they want to see in an all-star game, also they are hearing from agents, coaches who are recommending players both early and late in the invite process.

All-Star games are also looking at the spring grades from BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) to give them an idea of who the prospects that the NFL likes. Then they will see what players have played well in there senior year. All-Star games will speak with scouts to get their opinion on who they would like to see or who they think is worthy of being invited to the game.  

One of the big reasons that spring grades are so important is they are the starting point when it comes to all-star games and the NFL combine. National Football Scouting runs the NFL Combine so knowing and inviting who they had graded higher in the spring the more likely the prospect will be invited to the NFL Combine.

Since the life blood of an all-star game is sponsorship and most sponsors are looking to get close to NFL players or be able to say that they are involved with NFL prospects without having to spend the top dollars to be an official NFL sponsor.

But what I always tell people asking that question that communication is key with the personnel directors of the game or their staff.  Sometimes players will miss out on an opportunity to play in an all-star game because they don’t get back with an all-star game to let them know they are interested in playing in the game because they are waiting to get an invite to a “bigger” game.

Communicate with all the all-star games (Senior BowlEast West ShrineNFLPA, etc) and it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them via social media, email, phone, etc to get in front of them if you are not on their radar or even if you are it will strength your chance for an invite.

Since the Senior Bowl is by the far the number one all-star game they have the lead when it comes to what prospects go where.  If a player gets invited to the Senior Bowl most of the time they are pulling out of whatever all-star game they are in and going to that game.  Since that is the case and invites are kept close to the vest it causes all the other all-star games to continuously change their roster.

All-Star games start sending out invites in mid to late October and each game does it different as far as inviting players.  Some email the player directly the invite to their game, other games will send the invite to the school and have the coaches give the invite to the player.

My advice to players is accept the invite when you get it and get it back to the game if then you get invited to a “bigger” game,  just communicate with the game you had already accepted and just let them know in a timely manner so they can invite someone else.