By Justin VanFulpen
As we push towards the start of the all-star game season (Senior Bowl, East – West Shrine Game, etc) as an NFL Draft prospects you will start to get interview by what are called “College Scouts” from NFL teams. These guys’ jobs are to gather information both football and personal related, evaluate your play and write up scouting reports that can be reviewed by their team’s coaches and front office.
“Pro Scouts” on the other hand evaluate current players in the NFL, as well as players in the CFL, AFL and other leagues. Before pre-season rosters get cut down to a team’s 53 man roster these scouts are evaluating each player on the other 31 roster so if that player get released they have a “pro scouting report” on that player.
Each NFL teams has much more College Scouts then Pro Scouts on their staff. In the past when a player get released I have heard them saying well this scouts from a certain team really like me before the draft. After the draft is over college scouts have little to no impact on what an NFL teams does in training camp or in the season, because once the draft is over their cycle looking at next year’s draft prospects starts.
As a prospect you need to know that when/if you gets released that your agent (you if you are representing yourself) need to contact the teams Pro Scout to get a work out or get signed.
All-Games: Even before an agent signing a prospect he/she is most likely contacting the director of the all-star games but especially after a client has signed with an agent are they contacting the directors to see if they can get their client in a game. With the All-Star games being the last time football is practice or played it is the last time the NFL scouts will have a chance to evaluate the prospect in person, and as we always see players rise and sliding because of all-star game practice and game performances.
Film: Agents should be contacting scouts and coaches to sell and promote their clients best game film against their best level of competition that they played. With the game films agents can sell to scouts and coaches how their prospect fits into the team’s schemes and how they would be an upgrade to their roster.
NFL Scouts: Scouts make their own judgement and are paid to give their opinion on a prospects ability to play in the NFL. Agents are contacting scouts to give them information about their prospect and sell their prospects ability to play football.
Promotion of Prospect: An agent is looking to use the media as a form of getting their prospects story out there also to make sure other teams know that there is more than just one team interested in the prospect. Also an agent is looking to see what deals that they can make in with different companies to make their prospect additional money off the field. Some agent or agency might outsource these two jobs. Also each prospects ability to make money off the field will be different based on how high they are projected to be drafted as well as what position that they play.
Knowledge of the NFL Landscape: Each prospect is in competition with every player in their position as well as the current players at their position in the NFL, so an agent needs to have a working knowledge base to properly advise their client. They need to know what they of offense and defense scheme a team runs. It would be embarrassing if an agent was promoting a 3-4 defense end (5 tech) to a team that runs a 4-3 defense. Also if a prospect is not drafted where he is advising his client to sign is a big deal as if this prospect is just a “camp body” or has an actually shot at making the 53-man roster. What is the agent using to make a determination, what they are offer as a signing bonus or what the team currently has on their roster at their client position and the scheme the team runs? So knowledge of the NFL is an important thing.
These are just some of the tasks that an agent performs per draft there are many additional ones after the draft is over.
Film – Your level of competition and how you played against the best level of competition you faced that year. Each teams will view around 3 full games of your current season. This also includes if you played in an all-star game.
Athletic Numbers – Height, Weight, Speed
Injury History/Off Field/Football IQ – Any major injuries, anything major off the field, love of the game, film study
By Justin VanFulpen
By Justin VanFulpen
One of the biggest things in the pre-draft process is the different all-star games. I have had the opportunity to be involved with 6 College Football 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.
“I put more stock in that then combine stuff, the reason I do that, it’s ball… All-Star Games matter because it is good on good.”
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.
We saw this past year at the Senior Bowl QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State who end up as the number two pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagles raise his draft stock from his week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
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.
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.
Highlights from Former NFL GM and Scout Ray Farmer talking about the NFL Draft and the process at Inside the League Event at 2016 NFL Combine. Ray Farmer was a 4th round draft pick, worked for the Atlanta Falcons as a scout, Kansas City Chiefs as Director of Pro Personnel, and the Cleveland Browns as General Manager.
Right now we are getting close to the 2016 NFL draft but NFL scouts around the country are already hard at work on the 2017 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 late 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.