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.

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?

NFL Draft: 5 Year Draft Averages by Position (2016-2012)

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)

 

What College Football All-Star Game Directors look for when inviting NFL Draft prospects to All-Star Games

Justin VanFulpen at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game in Allen, Texas

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.

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.