How 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 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.

 

Why College Football All-Star Games Matter

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.

At the NFL Combine in 2016, former NFL GM Ray Farmer said about All-Star Games.

“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.

Why “Spring Grades” are Important

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.

7 Things an Agent can help a Coach with

By Justin VanFulpen

Social Media Consulting:  An agent can review coach’s social media accounts to make sure they are presenting the best image possible and if they aren’t on a social media platform help them get on it and use it to its best ability possible.

Interview Preparation: An agent can help get coaches prepared for their job interview from everything such as sample interview questions to reviewing their overall plan.

Media & Public Relations:  An agent can help coaches utilize the media and public relations as the ability to get their message out there and help increase their visibility and showcase their skills.

Career Counsel: An agent can be a sounding board with proven-expertise to assist coaches in their all aspects of their career.

Marketing:  An agent can help our coaches identifying potential outside income opportunities that may be available to them, such as public appearances, paid media opportunities, golf outings and more.

Job Placement Support: An agent can work to put their coach in the best position to obtain their desired position through anticipating openings, gathering information, and strategizing in all areas of the search process.

Contract Negotiation: An agent can focus on maximizing their coaches earning potential and professional protection, while the coach can just focus on being the best coach he can be.

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 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.

Only Film can raise your NFL Draft stock – Not your 40 time

By Justin VanFulpen

Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, many people are looking forward to the 2018 including the draft prospects for next year draft.  But if there is one thing that stood out in the 2017 NFL Draft is film is king and for the most part nothing else really matters.  People get excited for the NFL Combine to come and see how fast the NFL prospects run but one of the biggest shocks to many was the WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan went #5 overall to the Tennessee Titans.  Davis got hurt training and never did any of the testing, never ran a 40 and still was the #5 overall draft pick and was the first WR selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.  He sent in a video to all 32 teams of him running routes showing that he was almost back health from his ankle injury before the NFL Draft.

LB Haason Reddick, Temple came into the season with a spring grade from NFL scouts with a grade that he couldn’t play in the NFL (In the past it was called a reject grade), not even a low free-agent grade.  Basically saying he isn’t even someone to watch as a draft prospect.  But what did Reddick do this season he showed on film that the scout spring grade was wrong, he had a huge season, he was second on the team in tackles, first of the team in tackles for loss and sacks.  With that great season got him an invite to the Senior Bowl which he had a great week in front of scouts many who at the being of the process back in the spring said he couldn’t play in the NFL.  He was invited the NFL Combine and checked off the box on the numbers that a NFL linebacker should in the time and testing part.   Reddick went on to be the #13 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

But as many GMs will tell you their team’s board is set before the even get to the NFL Combine.  As Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn said after this year NFL draft after drafting Teez Tabor out of Florida who didn’t run well as the NFL Combine or his Pro Day.  (Link here)

Both Corey Davis and Haason Reddick where first round picks who didn’t play in a Power 5 conference and both show that it is about the film, and that it not about your grade going into the season or what you run of even if you run a 40.   Film is key and at the end of the day that is your resume to NFL teams.

2017 NFL Draft: NFL Scouting Combine Results

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.

Why playing speed is more import then timed speed

Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn talking about draft CB Teez Tabor, Florida  after a slow 40 time at the NFL Combine and Pro Day and that it is all about film and their NFL Draft Board is set before the NFL Combine ever happens

Money break down of the NFL Draft

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.

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?