2018 NFL Draft process starts with “Junior Days” and Spring Grades

By Justin VanFulpen

Right now we are getting close to the 2017 NFL Draft but NFL scouts around the country are getting ready to start their work on the 2018 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.

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.

Task of an NFL Agent pre-Draft

nfl-agent-role1By Justin VanFulpen

All-Games: Even before an agent signing a prospect he/she is most likely contacting the director of the all-star games but especially after a client has signed with an agent are they contacting the directors to see if they can get their client in a game. With the All-Star games being the last time football is practice or played it is the last time the NFL scouts will have a chance to evaluate the prospect in person, and as we always see players rise and sliding because of all-star game practice and game performances.

Film: Agents should be contacting scouts and coaches to sell and promote their clients best game film against their best level of competition that they played. With the game films agents can sell to scouts and coaches how their prospect fits into the team’s schemes and how they would be an upgrade to their roster.

NFL Scouts:  Scouts make their own judgement and are paid to give their opinion on a prospects ability to play in the NFL.  Agents are contacting scouts to give them information about their prospect and sell their prospects ability to play football.

Promotion of Prospect: An agent is looking to use the media as a form of getting their prospects story out there also to make sure other teams know that there is more than just one team interested in the prospect. Also an agent is looking to see what deals that they can make in with different companies to make their prospect additional money off the field.  Some agent or agency might outsource these two jobs.  Also each prospects ability to make money off the field will be different based on how high they are projected to be drafted as well as what position that they play.

Knowledge of the NFL Landscape:  Each prospect is in competition with every player in their position as well as the current players at their position in the NFL, so an agent needs to have a working knowledge base to properly advise their client. They need to know what they of offense and defense scheme a team runs.  It would be embarrassing if an agent was promoting a 3-4 defense end (5 tech) to a team that runs a 4-3 defense. Also if a prospect is not drafted where he is advising his client to sign is a big deal as if this prospect is just a “camp body” or has an actually shot at making the 53-man roster. What is the agent using to make a determination, what they are offer as a signing bonus or what the team currently has on their roster at their client position and the scheme the team runs? So knowledge of the NFL is an important thing.

These are just some of the tasks that an agent performs per draft there are many additional ones after the draft is over.

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)