NFL Draft: “Junior Days & Spring grades”

Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams has his height measured before a work out for NFL scouts during a pro-day workout at Baylor University Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Waco. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
By Justin VanFulpen

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.

Fast Guys run Fast

40s 2016 NFL Draft1

Some schools allow their players to run in the spring for NFL Scouts.  In this years NFL combine there were 21 players that ran for NFL Scouts in the spring and also ran at the NFL Combine.  Only 10 of them improved their times and 11 actually got slower.  All 21 players trained at a combine prep facility, but at the end of the day, fast guys run fast.

Plus as scouts and GMs will tell you by the time that they get to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine their NFL Draft Board is set.  Most teams have around 180 players on their draft board so the NFL Combine is about confirmation and cross checking. At the end of the day “it is about ball” as one GM told me.

 

 

What NFL Draft Grades are made up of

NFLDraftGrade

Film – Your level of competition and how you played against the best

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

Do NFL Players/Prospects need an NFL agent?

A lot of talk about this subject came on when Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle Russell Okung wrote the article “Betting on Myself” for the website The Players’ Tribune before the start of NFL training camps kicked off this summer.  In the article Okung talks about how he will be going into free-agency without an NFL Contract Advisor (Agent) and the reason he is doing that.  Okung was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

In this past NFL Draft we saw that there were three players that where drafted without an agent.  OT Ereck Flowers out of Miami (FL) who was the 9th overall pick by the New York Giants. CB Alex Carter out of Stanford who the 80th overall pick by the Detroit Lions. Carter father is former NFL CB Tom Carter who was a first round pick and now works for the NFLPA.  TE Gerald Christian who was the last pick in the draft by the Arizona Cardinals, but since the draft has hired an NFL agent.  So can you get drafted without an agent – ABOSLUTELY! But if you don’t have an agent you are the one marketing yourself to the NFL teams and negotiating your NFL contract since only the player or a certified NFLPA contact advisor can do.

One thing of the first things to do when talking with an “agent” is ask them if they are NFLPA certified if not you are dealing with what is called a “runner” and someone who can’t negotiated an NFL contact on your behalf.

Here are a few advantages of hiring an NFL Agent:

  1. Marketing your film and skills to all 32 NFL teams: There is time and effort an NFL team is more willing to give their true opinion of a player to a 3rd party rather than the player themselves.
  2. Protection: Let say you get injured in a practice or a game you want to have someone there to protect your best interest against the team, with second opinion as well as injury settlements or grievances.  Remember the NFL is a business when it is all said and done.
  3. Sound board: An NFL agent should know the NFL landscape and be able to give an educated opinion on all 32 teams and how you would fit in the draft or free-agency with a particular team.  As well as being able to give guidance and advice on other business and life matters.
  4. Contract Negotiations: An NFL would rather negotiated with someone other than the player and an agent job is to get the best deal for the player but yet the agent doesn’t play for the team so things that a team can and will say to an agent they most likely won’t say to a player.

True a player can save money by not hiring an agent, but one thing that a player needs to know is that their agent fee is tax deductible.   So having an NFL agent is an advantage but as a player you need to find the right one for the long term.  There are many agents out there and a lot of them only selling point to a player is the imitated cash value (money, training, etc.) that they can provide so you as a player need to understand the true value of hiring an NFL Contact advisor.

NFL Draft: NFL Combine/Pro Day Training

By Justin VanFulpen

In the past 20 years since Mike Mamula’s 1995 NFL Combine, training for the NFL Combine has become a big business.  There are hundreds of places that say they do NFL Combine training and now training facilities recruit like agents.  But do you need to go to a big training facility to be successful in the NFL draft the answer is NO.

If we look at this year’s draft two of the top five players drafted WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (Drafted by the Raiders 4th overall) and OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa (Drafted by the Redskins 5th overall) both trained at school.  Also Bud Dupree, Kentucky the 22nd overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers trained at school.

17 players that where drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft trained at school.   There are different factors that need to be looked at when making a decision where to training for the NFL Combine or your Pro Day.  A few of them are:

Location – Everyone loves the sun and warm weather but remember where the NFL Combine is located at.  It is in Indianapolis, Indiana in late February.  I have been in the NFL combine for the past 15 years it is never warm and sunny.  Also think about where you go to school since that is where your Pro Day is at.  Players in the past have gone away to train in warm weather and then haven’t performed as well as they wanted to in Indy or at their school Pro Day since the weather was complete different.

Personal Attention – How many guys will you be training with? Will there be 50 guys training with you and if so how much work on technique will there be done. If you are going somewhere other the school most likely you or someone else is paying that trainer, so that trainer gets paid no matter if you get drafted or don’t so just need to make sure they have your best interest in mind as well.

Position Specific Training – Who is working with you to get better at your position? Will there be anyone that played or coached your position before?

Medical/Rehab – After every football season everyone body is banged up or have some type of injury could be major or minor but need to have a place that will take that into consideration.

Familiar Surrounding – Depending on your bowl game/playoffs as well as getting invited to an all-star game you won’t have a lot of time to get settled into your routine before the NFL combine so that is something to take into consideration.

Your Individual Plan – Some guys don’t take a lot of this into consideration and just default into whatever work for past teams or what they feel is a “big” name training facility.  But you need to remember that everyone is different.

But when you get to training for the combine or your Pro Day 80% of your grade has already be decided with what you did on the field.  Because as everyone knows the eye in the sky doesn’t lie when it comes to film.

In any type of training the biggest thing is you are going get out what you put in.