What can help/hurt 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 this year with Joe Mixon.  Even with this happing a few years ago many teams have taken him off their draft board.

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.  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?

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position (2016-2012)

By Justin VanFulpen

With the 2017 NFL Draft less than a month away here is the average amount of players drafted at each position over the past 5 years (2011-2016) and the highs and lows.

QB – Average amount drafted – 11.6 – High amount drafted 15 (2016) Low amount drafted 7 (2015)

RB– Average amount drafted – 20.2 – High amount drafted 23 (2013) Low amount drafted 19 (2014,2012)

FB – Average amount drafted – 2.6 – High amount drafted 3 (2016,2015, 2013) Low amount drafted 2 (2014, 2012)

WR – Average amount drafted – 32.4 – High amount drafted 34 (2014,2015) Low amount drafted 28 (2013)

TE – Average amount drafted – 12.8 – High amount drafted 18 (2015) Low amount drafted 9 (2016)

OT – Average amount drafted – 20.8 – High amount drafted 26 (2015) Low amount drafted 18 (2013)

OG – Average amount drafted – 16.4 – High amount drafted 21 (2012) Low amount drafted 14 (2014)

C – Average amount drafted – 6.4 – High amount drafted 10 (2014) Low amount drafted 4 (2012)

DE – Average amount drafted – 22.6 – High amount drafted 30 (2013) Low amount drafted 21 (2012)

DT – Average amount drafted – 20.4 – High amount drafted 23 (2012) Low amount drafted 18 (2015)

 LB – Average amount drafted – 33.4 – High amount drafted 37 (2015) Low amount drafted 27 (2013)

CB – Average amount drafted – 31.4 – High amount drafted 32 (2016,2015) Low amount drafted 29 (2013)

S – Average amount drafted – 19.4 – High amount drafted 23 (2013) Low amount drafted 15 (2015)

K – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 4 (2012) Low amount drafted 0 (2015)

P – Average amount drafted – 1.8 – High amount drafted 3 (2016) Low amount drafted 1 (2015,2014)

 

Should College Football Coaches have agents?

Justin VanFulpen with client Davenport Head Coach Sparky McEwen

By Justin VanFulpen

There is a saying that “coaches are hired to be fired” or move on to another opportunity.  Everyone knows that college football at any level is a business and the primary role of any coaches’ agent is to help his or her client get a job or get a better job.  A successful agent may significantly enhance his or her clients’ bargaining power if he or she is truly knowledgeable about the level and type of compensation available to candidates in the market.

Most if not all of the top college coaches have agents, and some are represented by the same agent or agency.  Some people think that there is a conflict of interest with agents that might represent multiple coaches or both players and coaches.  But the job on an agent is to do what is in the best interest for his or her client.  As an agent, you’re only trying to facilitate something for your client, and that’s your job.

In the football coaching business you can’t insure success in terms of wins on the field, if things go wrong there can be factors that are beyond a coach’s control.  But what a coach can control is have or not having someone working for them behind the scenes.

As a college coach with a job there is much more than just coaching the X’s and O’s so to have someone advising you on the land scape of the football business, if it is about a new job opportunity, a contract, an off the field opportunity and much more, it can be invaluable.

Some coaches might reason, only head coaches need an agent or why do I need an agent, I can put these deals together on my own.  The really question should be why wouldn’t you have someone representing you.  It is another pair of eyes looking at a deal, someone to bounce an idea or thought off of that has experience in the football business.  True a coach could just use an attorney to look at a contract but they normally don’t have a lot of experience with everything else that goes on in the football business world.

Just like in any business there are better agents then others but the fact is being in the college football industry having an agent to represent you to athletic directors or other coaches behind the scenes so it doesn’t take your focus away from the task at hand can be invaluable.

What College Football All-Star Game Directors look for when inviting NFL Draft prospects to All-Star Games

Justin VanFulpen at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game in Allen, Texas

By Justin VanFulpen

First and for most College Football All-Star games are a business, they need sponsors to help take care of the expenses to bring in the NFL Draft prospects.  These sponsors want their brands to be associated with the NFL without having to pay the top dollars to be an official sponsor of the NFL or a competitor of their already has that category locked up with the NFL.  So to get true NFL prospects is a must to be able to help keep sponsors coming back year after year.  That is a major selling point to sponsors is how many draft pick you had or how many players you have in the NFL that played in your game.

When the spring grades come out from BLETSO and National not only are the agents and financial advisors try to get their hands on them but so are the people that run the all-star games.  All-star game directors of player personal want to see if the players NFL spring grade matches up to what they think of the NFL prospect.

When I was in that position in charge of personal we built our boards like we were an NFL team.  We wanted to make sure we could get the best prospect in our game as possible.  Any game not named the Senior Bowl knows it has to more work on elevation because since the Senior Bowl is far and away the number one College Football All-Star game.  If a player is going to play in an all-star game and get an invite from the Senior Bowl he is accepting that invite.

Here are things that Player Personal Directors look for when inviting prospect to College Football All-Star Games:

1. Is he a true NFL prospect: Does he have the ability to play on Sundays and is not just a good college football player?  What are scouts saying about him, will they want to see more of him in a college football all-star game setting?  What grade do you have on the prospect ? As a director can you defend the selection to NFL scouts if they ask.

2. Does he have NFL measurables: If there is a tie between two or more prospect for a game roster spot, directors will go for the bigger, longer player.

3. Where the player from: Since the game is a business it doesn’t hurt to have a few local or regional prospects to help with media coverage and ticket sales.

4. What agents are recruiting the prospect: What kind of relationship does the agent have with the games personal director? Is the agent truly trying to help the prospect or just help him if he signing the prospect? Is the agent using one all-star game invite to help the prospect get a “better” invite?

5. Is the college coach calling for the prospect: Will his college head coach or position coach pick up the phone or send you an email recommending him to the game? We would always have his happen and it did factor into our decision making process.

At the end of the day the College Football All-Star game process is a big part in which a prospect can raise his draft stock so as a director of player personal you want to make sure you get the best possible prospects into your game.

Marketing Money for NFL Players

By Justin VanFulpen

When it comes to off the field marketing dollars for NFL prospects or players there isn’t a lot of money or opportunities compared with the amount of players or prospects.  In terms of marketing the dollars and opportunities go to the skill players (Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers) and some top level defensive players.

NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA has done a nice job getting group licensing deals done that involve all current active NFL players.  They work with companies like EA Sports the does the popular Madden Football Video game and many other companies.

There are some more standard marketing deals that get done:

  1. Shoe and Apparel – Nike, Under Armour (Both companies licensed by Players Inc.)
  2. Trading Cards – Panini, Topps (Both companies licensed by Players Inc.)

But then there can also be some more creative deals to make dollars like getting paid to “Tweet” working with a company called Opendorse that is licensed by Players Inc. and the value of your “tweet” depends on how many Twitter followers you have.

Our a player can make additional money by having their own online t-shirt store with another licensed Players Inc. company 500 Level.

But be careful not to be fooled about how much money NFL players make off the field, it might not be as much as you think.  According to Opendorse Top 100 Highest-Paid Athlete Endorsers of 2016, which used Forbes World’s Highest Paid Athletes as their resource – here are the top 15 paid NFL players in terms of endorsement earnings.

  1. QB Peyton Manning – $15,000,000
  2. QB Drew Brees – $12,000,000
  3. QB Cam Newton – $12,000,000
  4. QB Russell Wilson – $10,000,000
  5. QB Tom Brady – $8,000,000
  6. QB Eli Manning – $8,000,000
  7. WR Demaryius Thomas – $1,200,000
  8. WR Julio Jones – $1,200,000
  9. LB Luke Kuechly – $1,000,000
  10. WR Dez Bryant – $500,000
  11. WR AJ Green – $500,000
  12. QB Joe Flacco – $500,000
  13. QB Philip Rivers – $500,000
  14. QB Sam Bradford – $300,000
  15. TE Zach Ertz – $200,000

So just know that just because a player is in the NFL doesn’t mean that he is making a ton of money off the field in endorsements.  Yes there are ways to be creative and find different avenues for off the field dollars but the main part of a players income will come from his contract with his team.

NFL Draft: College Scouts vs. Pro Scouts

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.

Medical and Character part of NFL Prospect draft 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 the 2015 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. We have seen what he has done this season that he has been one of the more productive running backs in the NFL.

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. Gregory was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season due to violating the league’s drug policy. A few months later, Gregory failed a second drug test, and received an additional 10-game suspension.

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)

 

Declaring early for NFL Draft – Is it worth the risk?

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.

  1. NFL Scouts aren’t allowed to scout underclassmen. True this rule will change next year with the new agreement with the AFCA and NFL takes effect.  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.
  1. Underclassmen aren’t allowed at post season all-star games. 5 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Last year there was a record of 107 underclassmen declaring early for the NFL Draft of that 30 players didn’t get drafted. Which was a little over 28% of the players that declared didn’t get drafted that was the same percentage in 2015 and in 2014 it was all the way up to 39.2% of the players that declared didn’t get drafted.

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.