Reason why some NFL prospects make and others do not

By Justin VanFulpen

When the NFL regular season started around 40% of NFL rosters were made up of undrafted players. Every year when it comes to who makes the 53 man roster you will see teams that cut draft picks and keep undrafted players. Being around the NFL business for almost 20 years if different aspects from covering it, to doing player personal to representing players, there is one thing that is hard to measure. That is the player’s true motivation. True there can be many factors on why a NFL draft pick doesn’t make it but to me one big factor is that it comes down to do two different types of prospects – Players who goal is to make it to the NFL and players who goal is to play in the NFL.

For NFL scouts and coaches this is hardest thing to figure out. Because people can say and do all the right thing but the really questions is what is the true motivation. All NFL prospects have good film and are good athletes or wouldn’t be considered a prospect.

Player who goal is to make it to the NFL – Their ending goal in football is that they have reached the highest level and it is a finishing point not a starting point in their football career. Maybe they are doing it because it seems to be the cool thing to do, it will make their parents, family and friends proud. They like the attention that it gets them on social media. But it is where the goal stops. This prospect is less likely to do the extra things to maintain his career or roster spot.

Player who goal is to play in the NFL – Getting drafted or signed is start part of the goal and not the end of the goal, true they are excited to see a dream fulfilled but know that now the work beings to reaching their goal of a long NFL career. This prospect is more likely to be willing to do the extra things to maintain his career or roster spot.

In terms of the extra things, it means does the prospect/player treat this as a business 365 days a year, does extra film work, taking practice seriously, make sure he is getting into the building early and staying late, taking care of his body with extra treatment, rest, recovery, a good diet and hydration.

The NFL is hard week to week business that if a player doesn’t have the correct motivation to make it in the NFL it will be come clear early.    Only a player truly knows what type of prospects he is and at the end of the day it is his career but the job of the people drafting and signing players is to try to figure out what they players true motivation is.

Declaring Early for the NFL Draft – What to Know

By Justin VanFulpen

This time of the year in college football, the mock drafts start coming out and people start talking about what players will declare early. But just because some on the internet is saying that this player should declare early or someone close to the player telling him that he should leave school early might not know all the facts.  Remember 80% of an NFL grade is made up on film.

1. In the past NFL Scouts weren’t allowed to scout underclassmen, but the rule has changed allowing the school to give scouts a list of 5 possible players that could declare that they were allowed to get info on. Scouts do look at the guys that they know for sure will be coming out early, but their main focus is the senior prospects. The underclassmen that aren’t general accepted as a 1st round pick there is rarely any work done on them during the season.

2. Underclassmen aren’t allowed at post season all-star games. 7 years ago with the NFLPA started the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl they were going to challenge the NFL rule and did allow one underclassmen in the game. That caused the NFL teams not to send a single scout to that all-star game. Because of that the NFLPA has only allowed seniors in their all-star game for then on. As we saw in the 2013 NFL Draft All-Star games are a big part of the process where OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan went from a late first rounder all the way up to the number one overall pick because of his play at the Senior Bowl.

3. NFL Combine – First official time NFL scouts can talk to underclassmen. Just because a prospect has declared early doesn’t automatically get him an invite to the NFL combine. So if a prospect is not invited then really the first time a scout get to talk with a prospect is at his school Pro Day.

4. NFL Draft Advisory Board – The board is composed of general managers and personnel directors from a number of NFL teams, along with the directors of the NFL’s two scouting combines, BLESTO and National. A prospect can ask for their assessment on where he is projected to get drafted. The board will return their assessment of the prospect with three possible grades – first round, second round, or neither, which means that the board advises the player to stay in school. The school can get a hold of the NFL Draft Advisory Board or the prospect can contact the NFL Player Personnel Department directly.

5. The 2018 NFL Draft included 106 underclassmen who entered the draft early, 69 players were drafted, leaving 37 who went undrafted (35% not drafted) The 2017 NFL Draft included 95 underclassmen who entered the draft early, 67 underclassmen were drafted, leaving 28 (30%) not drafted. The 2016 NFL Draft 30 of 96 underclassmen were not chosen (31%).

Every prospects situation is different when thinking about declaring early for the NFL Draft but each prospect should get as much information as possible in regards to leaving school early for the NFL Draft.  Just because someone (agent, family member, teammate, etc.) is telling you that you as a prospect should declare early make sure you get all the facts.

What can help/hurt a players NFL draft stock that has nothing to do with playing

By Justin VanFulpen

True in the NFL it is all about can you play the game at a high level and it is about the film and as they always say “the eye in the sky can’t tell a lie” but there are other factors that make up a player draft stock that has nothing to do with your skill as a player. There are a lot of things that are out of players control but there are many that it comes down to choices.

Effort/Hustle – Going 100% on every play doesn’t have anything to do skill.  Having a high motor and giving hustle and effort on every play is only a positive and is something that a player can control.  

Football IQ – Film study, knowledge of your opponent, what are his tendencies, knowledge of your scheme and the purpose of each play, knowledge of the rules, all of these things it doesn’t matter how athletically gifted you are as a player.     

Failed Drug Test – As a player you might not thing that this is a big deal but it is something that can hurt you with NFL teams and is something that as player you have control over.

Domestic Violence/ Violence against Women – There are many documented cases that has affected guys draft status including two years ago with running back Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals).  Even with this happening a few years ago many teams took him off their draft board and he dropped a lot further in the draft then many people had him graded on film.

Association – When NFL teams are doing their due diligence investigating player’s back-grounds they are interested in who the player hangs with off the field and do any of these people present red flags.  They are wondering if by associating with these people will the player be affected to making some bad decisions?

Social Media – Monitoring and reviewing player’s social media has become a big time in the recent years.  Scouts are looking to see what the prospect is posting on these platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram).  They are looking for is the player posting about football? Some of the red flags they are looking for is the prospect posting about Guns, Violence, Drugs, Alcohol, etc.?

Medical – This is one that a prospect doesn’t have much control over, in football injuries happen, and they do have an effect on prospect draft grade.   What a prospect does have is when the injury does happen how hard to they attack the rehab, also what are you doing as far as injury prevention?

An NFL Agent alone can’t get a player drafted or signed

By Justin VanFulpen

Many players were not drafted as high as they thought they would or were promise and some didn’t get drafted at all in this year’s NFL Draft. First off if any agent promise that you will get drafted, or he or she promises you what round you will get drafted …Run!

No one knows for sure were a player will get drafted not even the teams –  see Baker Mayfield this past April, no one thought he would go number one overall even a week before the draft, before the season started and even during the season a lot of teams had him graded as a third round pick.

An agent is a facilitator of your talents as a player and what you have put on film. 

An agent can help get you into an All-Star game (Senior Bowl, E-W Shrine, etc.), help you in the pre-draft process, promote your film to NFL scouts, promote you to the media, give you an overview of the NFL landscape in terms of your position with the 32 NFL teams, but if the NFL teams don’t think you can play in the NFL he or she is not going to get you drafted or signed.

NFL teams for the most part don’t care who your agent is.  Also NFL teams are going to do what they feel is best for their teams not doing a favor for an agent that they know or like.

An agent has a valuable role to play in the process and they can help move guys up with their guidance and skills about the pre-draft process but an NFL agent alone can’t get a player drafted or signed.  It comes down to does the NFL teams think the player has the skills to play in the NFL.

Basic NFL Business 101

By Justin VanFulpen

This might not be any new information but here is some of the basic’s when it comes to the NFL business.

Roster size:  90 man roster in the off-season and start of training camp.  Rosters will get cut down to 53 man roster and of that only 46 players dress for each week.  If a player doesn’t dress he will still get paid the same if he did dress for the game.

Benefits of being on 53 man roster:  After you play 2 regular season games you will be automatic enrolled in the 401K in which the NFL has a match.  There is an NFL pension, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.  Also each player on the 53 man roster does receive 2 game tickets per home game.

2019 Rookie Base Salary:  $495,000 per year or $29,118 per week.

Performance Based Pool:  If a player plays one down in a regular season game he is eligible. This is a lump sum of money paid out after the season based on each player playtime percentage.

Playoffs:  Will get additional weekly checks if team is in the playoffs.

Practice Squad: The maximum players allowed on a NFL teams practice squad is 10.  A practice squad player can sign with any teams 53 man roster at any time and if signs with another team then its own the player is guaranteed 3 regular season game checks (Assuming there is 3 regular season games left).

2019 Practice Squad Pay: $8,000 a week or $136,000 a year.

Training Camp/Pre-Season Games: Weekly pay in 2019 is $1,150 for rookies.

Taxes: Will need to pay state income taxes in each state that a player plays in, so at the end of the season possible 9 state tax returns will need to be filled.  Each state has a different state income tax rate and some states like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Washington have no state income tax.

Tuesday During the NFL Season:  Most teams Tuesday is the players off day, but also it is the day teams will bring in “street free-agents” to work out because of injuries the past week or to get a look at for the teams emergency list for future injuries.

Future Contracts:  When people talk about future contract it an NFL team signing a player after the season so that the player can participate in OTA’s, Mini-Camps and then go to training camp with the team.

Agents:  Agents can charge a maximum of 3%, on base salary as well as signing bonus, work out bonus, and roster bonus.  But only get paid after the player gets paid.  Also does not get a commission on practice squad weekly pay.

How do College Football All-Star Game Invites work?

By Justin VanFulpen

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 to give them an idea of who as a whole the NFL likes as seniors when they speak with scouts.  One of the big reasons that spring grades as so important when it comes to all-star games and 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 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.

19 Things a NFL Agent Does For Their Client

By Justin VanFulpen

Not all firms or all agents do all these things but they are aware of these things and can get them done if need.

1. Contract Negotiations – Top thing an agent is trying to is maximum their clients on the field contract and any off the field contacts.

2. Marketing and Selling Film (Pre-Draft & Free-Agency) – 80% of players draft grade is based on film and when players go into free-agency it is all about selling film and ability.

3. All Star Game Invites – Agent can push players to the All-Star game directors even before the season starts.

4. Training – Not only pre-draft training recommendations but also off-season training as well.

5. Nutrition – Goes hand and hand with training but it also in-season and off-season.

6. Endorsements and Marketing – Addition way for agents to help their clients make money off the field.

7. PR and Media Relations – The Media is a good way to be able increase visibility and brand.

8. Relocation Assistance – Players can always be on the move in free-agency and new teams.

9. Appearances – If it is not a paid appearance sometime it worth more to your brand to be somewhere.

10. Injury Settlements/ Grievances – There is always injuries in football and it is a business so need someone to look out of your best interest as a player.

11. Benefits Assistance/Education (401K, Pension, Performance Base Pay) – Helping the players be aware of everything that is available to him and how it all works.

12. Financial Advisement (In-house, Referral, or Vetting) – Some agents have this service done in house or can help their clients find the right qualified fit for them.

13. Taxes (In-house, Referral, or Vetting) – Some agents have this service done in house or can help their clients find the right qualified fit for them.

14. Insurance (In-house, Referral or Vetting) – Some agents have this service done in house or can help their clients find the right qualified fit for them.

15. Social Media Management – Social media not only can have an effect on your band it is another way to help great additional revenue for the player.

16. Branding/Website Development – Branding is an important part to help increase awareness and increase current and future revenue.

17. Concierge Services – Bill Pay, Event Planning, Personal Services, Travel Assistance, etc.

18. Career Management – Overall guidance of the player current and future plans.

19. Post-Career Planning – Helping figuring out what is the plan after the game of football.

Why “Spring Grades” are Important to NFL Prospects

By Justin VanFulpen

When NFL scouts from the two scouting services BLETSO and National go into a school to do their junior evaluation 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.  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.

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 Scouting 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.

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position (2017-2013)

By Justin VanFulpen

With the 2018 NFL Draft a month away here is the average amount of players drafted at each position over the past 5 years (2013-2017) and the highs and lows.

QB – Average amount drafted – 11.4 – High amount drafted 15 (2016) Low amount drafted 7 (2015)

RB– Average amount drafted – 21.6 – High amount drafted 26 (2017) Low amount drafted 19 (2014)

FB – Average amount drafted – 2.6 – High amount drafted 3 (2016,2015) Low amount drafted 2 (2014)

WR – Average amount drafted – 32.2 – High amount drafted 34 (2014,2015) Low amount drafted 28 (2013)

TE – Average amount drafted – 13.4 – High amount drafted 18 (2015) Low amount drafted 9 (2016)

OT – Average amount drafted – 20.2 – High amount drafted 26 (2015) Low amount drafted 16 (2017)

OG – Average amount drafted – 14.6 – High amount drafted 18 (2013) Low amount drafted 12 (2017)

C – Average amount drafted – 6.6 – High amount drafted 10 (2014) Low amount drafted 5 (2013,2015,2017)

DE – Average amount drafted – 23.6 – High amount drafted 30 (2013) Low amount drafted 17 (2016)

DT – Average amount drafted – 20.0 – High amount drafted 22 (2016) Low amount drafted 18 (2015)

 LB – Average amount drafted – 32.4 – High amount drafted 37 (2015) Low amount drafted 27 (2013)

CB – Average amount drafted – 32.0 – High amount drafted 34 (2017) Low amount drafted 29 (2013)

S – Average amount drafted – 20.2 – High amount drafted 23 (2013,2017) Low amount drafted 15 (2015)

K – Average amount drafted – 1.6 – High amount drafted 3 (2017) Low amount drafted 0 (2015)

P – Average amount drafted – 1.4 – High amount drafted 3 (2016) Low amount drafted 0 (2017)