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 Bowl, East West Shrine, NFLPA, 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.
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.
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.
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 Mitchell Trubisky for an example just this year some people had him going in the second round and he went second overall.
Players might be on NFL team’s draft boards and call players multiple times but never draft them because teams for the most part have to or are willing to react to what happens in the draft as a whole.
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.), 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 as skills 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.
By Justin VanFulpen
In the football business one of the closely guarded secrets before the official list is released is who is getting invited to the NFL Combine. The NFL Combine is run by National Scouting and has become a televised event by the NFL Network. For more information about how the NFL Combine invites work you can check out my article from a year ago: NFL Draft: NFL Combine just part of the process.
Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books we can look at the results. This year there were 329 players invited to the NFL Combine and their where 28 players that were drafted that did NOT go to the NFL Combine. Break down as far as rounds go:
2nd round – 1 player
3rd round – 1 player
4th round – 2 players
5th round – 3 players
6th round – 6 players
7th round – 15 players
So 104 players that were invited to this year’s NFL Combine were not drafted. So the percentage of players that were drafted that were invited to the NFL Combine was 68%, so it is far from a guarantee if you are invited that you will get selected in the NFL Draft. Last year it was 65% of the players that were at the NFL Combine where drafted.
By Justin VanFulpen
Tomorrow is the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft here is a look back at last year’s draft (2016) in terms of the average guaranteed dollars by round.
1st Round = $13,518,446
2nd Round = $3,024,333
3rd Round = $755,602
4th Round = $524,372
5th Round = $231,976
6th Round = $124,830
7th Round = $72,496
So you can see there is a big drop off from the first round to the second round in terms of guaranteed dollars. Below you will see a breakdown of all last year’s first round picks in terms of total contract (all 1st round pick total contract is guaranteed) and the signing bonus.
So you see there is a huge drop off in terms of your total contact from being the 1st pick of the draft to even being the 16th pick in the 1st round. Between Jared Goff to Taylor Decker there is a difference of almost $17 million dollars.
Because of amount of money that is on the line that why teams do as much work on not only the playing ability but the personal and back ground of a prospect. We see this year two prospect have had off the field issues weeks leading up to the draft that could cost them a lot of money in CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State (one time projected as high as top 15 overall ) and DT Caleb Brantley, Florida (one time projected in the 1st round). We will see what end happens with these two prospects when it is all said and done. So as an NFL prospect you need to remember it is not just about how good of a player you are or can be on the field.
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?
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)
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.
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.