The NFL Draft is not made up just from the Power 5 Conferences

By Justin VanFulpen

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 4 NFL Draft we see that there are a good amount of draft picks that come from other levels of college football.

2015 NFL Draft (256 picks):

56 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (21.8%)

20 of those 56 Non-FBS

Baltimore Ravens WR Breshad Perriman, UCF – 1st round 26th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford – 2nd round 46th overall pick was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2014 NFL Draft (256 picks):

84 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (32.8%)

24 of those 84 Non-FBS

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, UCF – 1st round 3 pick overall was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois – 2nd round 62nd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2013 NFL Draft (254 picks):

88 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (34.6%)

29 of those 88 Non-FBS

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan – 1st round 1st overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

Atlanta Falcons CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana – 2nd round 60th overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2012 NFL Draft (253 picks):

69 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (27.2%)

22 of those 69 Non-FBS

Kansas City Chiefs DT Dontari Poe, Memphis – 1st round 11th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State – – 2nd round 33rd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.   (In 2012 Appalachian State was non FBS – they have moved to the FBS now)

So in the past 4 NFL Draft we see there was at least 1 first round pick from a Non-5 Power conference and in 2013 the first overall pick came from a Non-5 Power conference.  In the past 4 NFL draft ever year there has been a 2nd round pick that was from a Non-FBS school.

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.

NFL Draft: NFL Combine just part of the process

By Justin VanFulpen

The NFL Combine has become a made for TV event for the NFL and it sponsors like Under Armor and the rest. Everyone loves to watch the 40 yard dash to see how fast all the players but the biggest reason all 32 NFL teams come to Indianapolis for the NFL combine is the medical test as well as the interviews that they can get done with over 300 players all at one location.

Former Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, proposed to the NFL competition committee a centralization of the evaluation process for NFL teams. Prior to 1982, teams had to schedule individual visits with players to run them through drills and tests.

How do players get invited to the NFL Combine? Well for years the rumor was a player needed 6 votes to get invited but that is not the case. Here is what is directly from the NFL Combine website www.nflcombine.net about that subject.

“How are players selected for the NFL Combine?
Participants are determined annually by a Selection Committee. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent twenty-five NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft.”

There is no set number of invites but usually it is around 330 players, this year there were 322 players invited to the NFL Combine. Just because a player is invited to the NFL Combine does not guarantee that he will get drafted since there are only 256 players drafted each year in the NFL Draft. Now if a player goes to the NFL Combine there is a better chance that he will get drafted then players that doesn’t. But there are always players who didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine that get drafted, and this past year it was a very high number of players who didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine that got drafted, a total of 41.

Below is the breakdown by rounds of players who didn’t get invited to the combine but where drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft.

4th round – 3 players
5th round – 7 players
6th round – 16 players
7th round – 15 players

So just doing the math 107 players that went to the NFL Combine didn’t get drafted. So only 66.7% of the players that went to the NFL Combine got drafted this year.

Remember the NFL Combine is just part of the elevation process, with centralizing it and having all 32 teams involved it has cut down on part of the expense and one of the biggest part of the combine that isn’t shown on NFL Network is the medical aspect of it.

NFL Draft: Social Media Profile

By Justin VanFulpen

In the past few years social media has exploded and more and more corporate America is reviewing candidates for jobs social media profiles and making hiring decisions based on what they find on someone’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This has now made its way to the NFL Draft process and it is something some NFL teams are taking to a scientific measurable level.

NFL teams are creating a “social media profile” on NFL draft prospects as well as their regular football profile that included medical and character. This social media profile is looking to see what the prospects are tweeting about, what they are posting, etc. Things that they are looking for is how much does the prospect post something about football? Are there posts about drugs, weapons, or alcohol? Does the prospect post things degrading women? Some NFL teams will use pie graphs to show the percentage of things that the prospect posts about.

How far are NFL teams going back to research? Well one NFL team that I talked to said that they looked all the way back at a tweet QB Jameis Winston had tweeted in high school. Yes, high school.

With this social media analytics and data what NFL teams are trying to find out is, one does the prospect love football and two is he a good guy and can we trust him. Everyone need to know what they post on social media could be viewed differently by different people. True what someone post on social media doesn’t give the full picture but it is a tool that NFL teams are trying to use to make better personal decisions.

Medical and Character part of NFL Prospect grade


By Justin VanFulpen

Player’s NFL Draft grade is much more then what a player does on the field or how fast he runs at the NFL Combine. Two of things most over looked when fans are watching the NFL draft and wondering why a certain player hasn’t been picked is medical and character. We saw this play out in this past NFL Draft.

RB Jay Ajayi of Boise State had a 2nd round grade on him by most people as a football player but had to wait to be drafted until the 5th round by the Miami Dolphins because of a concern about his knee which he tore his ACL back in 2011 but hadn’t missed a game since coming back from the injury. There were reports that he flunked some physicals and that there is bone-on-bone according to some of the doctors, and people question how long he will last in the NFL. GM’s and personal people with the NFL club look to their team doctors to make final say on if a prospect can be keep on the draft board or taken off based on the medical information.

On the flip side there were some character concerns involving drugs that cost a few NFL prospects including Randy Gregory, Nebraska who most thought was a top 10 NFL Draft prospect who had a failed drug test at the NFL combine and also reports that teams were concerned that he wasn’t as mature as they would like. Gregory was drafted in the 2nd round 60th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. Some NFL clubs will take a player off their team draft board completely because of character concerns.

With medical issues there is not much a player can do to alleviate the concerns of a NFL team. But the character grade the NFL teams give a NFL prospect that is something that a prospect can have an influence on, true everyone makes mistakes but some mistakes cost players more than others.

What goes into a prospects NFL grade? Well here is a quick list of what makes up a NFL grade on a prospect.

1. Film – Mostly from prospect final year in college
2. Athleticism – Each team has certain things they are looking at from the testing numbers (Height, Weight, 40, Vertical, etc.)
3. Medical
4. Character
5. Football IQ – This would include personality testing as well as ability to process information (Wonderlic)
6. Scheme Fit – Each team is looking at a prospect based on how they fit what their offense or defense likes to do. (Example 3-4 vs. 4-3 defense, how does the Defensive linemen fit their scheme)

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position

By Justin VanFulpen

With the 2015 NFL Draft starting this Thursday I thought we would look at the average amount of players drafted at each position over the past 5 years (2010-2014) and the highs and lows.

QB – Average amount drafted – 12.4 – High amount drafted 14 (2014, 2010) Low amount drafted 11 (2013, 2012)

RB– Average amount drafted – 19.6 – High amount drafted 24 (2011) Low amount drafted 13 (2010)

FB – Average amount drafted – 3 – High amount drafted 6 (2011) Low amount drafted 2 (2014, 2012, 2010)

WR – Average amount drafted – 30.4 – High amount drafted 34 (2014) Low amount drafted 28 (2013, 2011)

TE – Average amount drafted – 13.8 – High amount drafted 20 (2010) Low amount drafted 10 (2014)

OT – Average amount drafted – 20.6 – High amount drafted 23 (2010) Low amount drafted 18 (2013)

OG – Average amount drafted – 15 – High amount drafted 21 (2012) Low amount drafted 9 (2010)

C – Average amount drafted – 6 – High amount drafted 10 (2014) Low amount drafted 4 (2012)

DE – Average amount drafted – 26 – High amount drafted 30 (2013,2010) Low amount drafted 21 (2012)

DT – Average amount drafted – 20 – High amount drafted 25 (2010) Low amount drafted 17 (2011)

LB – Average amount drafted – 31 – High amount drafted 34 (2014) Low amount drafted 27 (2013)

CB – Average amount drafted – 33 – High amount drafted 39 (2011) Low amount drafted 29 (2013)

S – Average amount drafted – 19 – High amount drafted 23 (2013) Low amount drafted 14 (2011)

K – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 4 (2012) Low amount drafted 0 (2010)

P – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 3 (2010) Low amount drafted 1 (2014, 2011)

NFL Draft: “All-Star Games”

By Justin VanFulpen

One of the biggest things in the pre-draft process is the all-star games.  I have had the opportunity to be involved with 6 all-star games.  Five Texas vs. the Nation games and as well as the Player All-Star Classic in 2012, mainly working with the player personnel but also having other duties.

College football all-star games are about giving players an opportunity to show their skills in front of NFL scouts. In this environment where player come from all levels of competition the NFL scouts are evaluating not only the one-on-one and team practices but how fast can a player pick the offense or defense that is being installed since everything is done within that game week.

Small school prospects that get into one of the major all-star games have a great ability to help themselves in the draft process because it shows scouts that the level of competition is not too high for them since that will be one of the biggest questions mark for that prospect to answer.

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 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.  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.

This was evident this past year where a handful of players didn’t responded back to their invites to the NFLPA All-Star game and the game moved on an invited other players to take their spot.  Luckily the College Gridiron Showcase hadn’t finished their roster and was able to get these players in their game which helped out the talent in that game.

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 other will send the invite to the school and have the coaches give it to the players.  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.

2016 College Football All-Star Games:

Senior Bowl – January 30, 2016
East-West Shrine Game – January 23, 2016
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl – Date TBD
Medal of Honor Bowl – January 9, 2016
College Gridiron Showcase – Date TBD

 

NFL Draft: “Spring grades”

Scout HeightBy Justin VanFulpen

Right now we are getting close to the 2015 NFL draft but NFL scouts around the country are already hard at work on the 2016 NFL draft on college campus in what is called “Junior Days”. What are “Junior Days”? Well there are two scouting organizations that NFL teams subscribe to called BLESTO and National (National Football Scouting) each of these organizations is made up of scouts from different teams, and all except the New England Patriots “subscribe” to one of these services.

Normally the college coach who is the pro liaison sets up the junior day in which the draft-eligible players for the next year take part in a workout much like a Pro Day just for these scouts. These junior days are normally scheduled during spring practice.

Scouts do measurable, the player’s height, weight, hand size and reach, some school will allow their players to run the 40 but others won’t. The scouts will also have the players take the Wonderlic test which is a standardized test which is used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving. The scouts also view film for the player’s junior year as well as background information and injury history. From there, only a single report is filed and shared with the other teams as part of the group, and then there is a meeting where the reports are shared with the member clubs sometime in May.

Once those reports are filled that is when people in the football business try to get their hands on those reports or just the grades. Even though all information from National Football Scouting and BLESTO are proprietary, agents, financial advisors, trainers, all-star game organizers, media members, and NFL draft gurus all try to get their hands on what is referred to as the “spring grades.” Once anyone gets their hands on these grades they will start contacting the players letting them know what their “spring grade” is.

These grades are not set in stone and they sure change thru out the season but they are for sure a great starting point. The grade that either of these services gives a player the May before he plays senior season doesn’t have a huge effect on where the player is drafted a full year later but does have a good bearing if the player will get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine which is run by National and has input by BLESTO on who gets invited.

Springs grades are important starting point for people in football business and the prospects. But there is always prospects who come off the radar like DE Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions (Drafted 5th overall in 2013, no spring grade) and this year CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH) should be a middle round draft pick who also didn’t have a spring grade going into this season.