By Justin VanFulpen
In the past few years social media has exploded and more and more corporate America is reviewing candidates for jobs social media profiles and making hiring decisions based on what they find on someone’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. This has now made its way to the NFL Draft process and it is something some NFL teams are taking to a scientific measurable level.
NFL teams are creating a “social media profile” on NFL draft prospects as well as their regular football profile that included football skills on film, medical and character. This social media profile is looking to see what the prospects are tweeting about, what they are posting, etc. Things that they are looking for is how much does the prospect post something about football? Are there posts about drugs, weapons, or alcohol? Does the prospect post things degrading women? Some NFL teams will use pie graphs to show the percentage of things that the prospect posts about.
How far are NFL teams going back to research? Well one NFL team that I talked to said that they looked all the way back at a tweet QB Jameis Winston had tweeted in high school. Yes, high school.
“Our job now as scouts is not just see if the guy can play but every aspect of his life and that now includes his social media and what he post, as what his post is most likely what is important to him as a person. We are now taking it to a level of measuring that.” said one NFL scout.
As we saw play out with former Ole Miss and current Miami Dolphins OT Laremy Tunsil social media was hacked and a video and screen shot of texts were posted. Tunsil’s fall from the draft’s projected No. 3 pick to No. 13 cost him at least $10 million in guaranteed signing bonuses. True Tunsil’s social media profiles we hacked by what was believed someone who Tunsil had given access to his profiles in the past.
With this social media analytics and data what NFL teams are trying to find out is, one does the prospect love football and two is he a good guy and can we trust him. Everyone need to know what they post on social media could be viewed differently by different people. True what someone post on social media doesn’t give the full picture but it is a tool that NFL teams are trying to use to make better personal decisions.
Social media can be used for positives things like building one’s brand, marketing, engaging with fans, supporting causes and much more but it can have a negative effect as well and once something is posted it can’t be taken back even if deleted because with the notoriety someone will screen shot it and it will live on.
Film (80%) – Your level of competition and how you played against the best level of competition you faced that year. Each NFL team will view around 3 full games of your current season normally against who is the best competition. This also includes if a prospect plays in any of the college football all-star games.
Athletic Numbers (10%) – Height, Weight, Speed. Teams are looking at the film first and then see if the prospect checks off the box in the athletic numbers per the position.
Injury History/Off Field/Football IQ (10%) – Any major injuries, anything major off the field, love of the game, film study. Scouts are check social media, talking to high school coaches, strength coaches, academic advisors, current coaches as they try to find out as much information on the prospect on and off the field.
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.
2018 Rookie Base Salary: $480,000 per year or $28,235 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 2 regular season game checks.
2018 Practice Squad Pay: $7,600 a week or $129,200 a year.
Training Camp/Pre-Season Games: Weekly pay in 2017 is $1,075 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.
By Justin VanFulpen
Then simple answer is whenever he wants to or feels he needs to. A coach can negotiate his own contract and he can do all the other things an agent helps with. College Football coaches are busy and we all have 24 hours in a day so the question comes does having an agent free up some time? Does the agent bring other value to the coach? In terms of other service the agent provides or even just being a confidential sounding board.
If I would hire someone to cut my lawn, it is not the fact that I can’t do it, it is the fact I would rather do something else with my time. This is the same principle here, a coach can know the market place in terms of salaries, contracts, opening, and more but it might be helpful to have someone else there to do some of the work as well.
Also with College Football became even more of a big business on all levels it could be good to have someone to be your voice or even play the “bad cop” role with administration or whoever is in charge of the contracts. But also there is much more that coaches use their agent for then just getting a deal done and a contract negotiated.
The question I have gotten in the past is “what is the downside” and the answer is there really isn’t one, you as the coach empower the agent to negotiate or inquire about a job or other service so a reputable agent really could only increase your value, add more time back to you or enhance what you are already doing. Another thing I have heard is “I don’t want an agent to ruin the reputation that I have built so far in my career” and to that I say at the end of the day you are the boss the agent works for you so you guys should have communicated on how you as the coach want things done and it if it doesn’t work out that is when you terminate the relationship.
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.
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
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 picks up 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 two 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. OT Eric Fisher from Central Michigan in 2013 went from a late first round pick to the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft after his week at the Senior Bowl.
Players who are Seniors can get an idea of what the NFL think about them based on what all-star game the get invited to and not getting invited to a game says a lot because the directors of all-star games are talking with scouts to see who they want to see in a game. True going to the Senior Bowl doesn’t mean you are getting drafted in the first round but it can help your draft stock if you have a good week at any of the all-star games.
All-Star games are the second most import thing in the draft evaluation process after the prospects season film evaluation.
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.