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)

 

Declaring early for NFL Draft – Is it worth the risk?

By Justin VanFulpen

This time of the year in college football, the mock drafts start coming out and people start talking about what players will declare early.  But just because some on the internet is saying that this player should declare early or someone close to the player telling him that he should leave school early might not know all the facts.

  1. NFL Scouts aren’t allowed to scout underclassmen. True this rule will change next year with the new agreement with the AFCA and NFL takes effect.  Scouts do look at the guys that they know for sure will be coming out early, but their main focus is the senior prospects.  The underclassmen that aren’t general accepted as a 1st round pick there is rarely any work done on them during the season.
  1. Underclassmen aren’t allowed at post season all-star games. 5 years ago with the NFLPA started the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl they were going to challenge the NFL rule and did allow one underclassmen in the game.  That caused the NFL teams not to send a single scout to that all-star game.  Because of that the NFLPA has only allowed seniors in their all-star game for then on.  As we saw in the 2013 NFL Draft All-Star games are a big part of the process where OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan went from a late first rounder all the way up to the number one overall pick because of his play at the Senior Bowl.
  1. NFL Combine – First official time NFL scouts can talk to underclassmen. Just because a prospect has declared early doesn’t automatically get him an invite to the NFL combine. So if a prospect is not invited then really the first time a scout get to talk with a prospect is at his school Pro Day.
  1. NFL Draft Advisory Board – The board is composed of general managers and personnel directors from a number of NFL teams, along with the directors of the NFL’s two scouting combines, BLESTO and National. A prospect can ask for their assessment on where he is projected to get drafted.  The board will return their assessment of the prospect with three possible grades – first round, second round, or neither, which means that the board advises the player to stay in school. The school can get a hold of the NFL Draft Advisory Board or the prospect can contact the NFL Player Personnel Department directly.
  1. Last year there was a record of 107 underclassmen declaring early for the NFL Draft of that 30 players didn’t get drafted. Which was a little over 28% of the players that declared didn’t get drafted that was the same percentage in 2015 and in 2014 it was all the way up to 39.2% of the players that declared didn’t get drafted.

Every prospects situation is different when thinking about declaring early for the NFL Draft but each prospect should get as much information as possible in regards to leaving school early for the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is not made up just from the Power 5 Conferences

By Justin VanFulpen

A lot of people believe that the NFL Draft is made up of the Power 5 college football conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC & Pac-12) in college football but that is not totally the case.  If we take a look at the past 5 NFL Draft we see that there are a good amount of draft picks that come from other levels of college football.

2016 NFL Draft (253 picks):

57 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (22.5%)

20 of those 57 Non-FBS

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State -1st round 2nd overall was earliest Non-Power 5 and Non-FBS pick.

2015 NFL Draft (256 picks):

56 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (21.8%)

20 of those 56 Non-FBS

Baltimore Ravens WR Breshad Perriman, UCF – 1st round 26th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford – 2nd round 46th overall pick was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2014 NFL Draft (256 picks):

84 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (32.8%)

24 of those 84 Non-FBS

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, UCF – 1st round 3 pick overall was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois – 2nd round 62nd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2013 NFL Draft (254 picks):

88 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (34.6%)

29 of those 88 Non-FBS

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan – 1st round 1st overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

Atlanta Falcons CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana – 2nd round 60th overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.

2012 NFL Draft (253 picks):

69 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (27.2%)

22 of those 69 Non-FBS

Kansas City Chiefs DT Dontari Poe, Memphis – 1st round 11th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State – – 2nd round 33rd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.   (In 2012 Appalachian State was non FBS – they have moved to the FBS now)

So in the past 5 NFL Draft we see there was at least 1 first round pick from a Non-5 Power conference and in 2013 the first overall pick came from a Non-5 Power conference.  In the past 4 NFL draft ever year there has been a 2nd round pick that was from a Non-FBS school.

So just remember if you are in a Power 5 conference there are other guys looking to get drafted just as high as you are and if you are not in a Power 5 conference it doesn’t matter if you can play football the NFL will find you.

 

Undrafted: Doesn’t mean a player won’t make it in the NFL

When the NFL Draft comes around every April every college football player that is eligible is hoping that they will get drafted somewhere in the 7 round draft.  With over 1,500 eligible players and only 256 draft slots that can’t happen.  After the NFL Draft teams will sign undrafted rookie free-agents and it gives them an opportunity to make the teams 53 man roster, some other teams 53 man roster or a practice squad. With the NFL season about to kickoff let look at the impact that undrafted rookie free-agents have on NFL rosters.

As of September 7, 2016 there is 478 players on a 53 man roster that where not drafted.  So 28% of the 32 NFL teams 53 man rosters are made of undrafted free-agents.  61 of these players are rookies.

There are 240 undrafted players that are on practice squads. Teams are allowed a max of 10 players on a practice squad, so 75% of the NFL’s practice squads are made up of undrafted players.

NFL teams spend millions of dollars on scouting players for the draft but they are unable to be prefect in their selection of players. When the draft comes everyone has an opinion on what players will get drafted and who will make the 53 man roster but the NFL business is unpredictable and that is one reason why people love it.

A full breakdown of all 32 NFL teams and undrafted players:

UndraftedPlayers9-7-16

Impact of Social Media and NFL Draft Prospects

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 this past April draft 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.

NFL Draft: “All-Star Games” and why they 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 games and as well as the Player All-Star Classic in 2012, mainly working with the player personnel but also having other duties.

This past February at the NFL Combine, 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 pick 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 past 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.

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 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.  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.

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.

2016 NFL Draft: Testing Averages per Position

By Justin VanFulpen

With the 2016 NFL Draft in the books here is a look at the average height, weight, 40, Vertical Jump, Short shuttle, and 3 cone drill by position of players that were drafted.

QBs: 6037 226 – 4.84 (40) – 30.9’’ (Vertical) – 4.31 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.15 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.78 (Hackenburg & Hogan)
Highest Vertical – 36’’ (Lynch & Jones)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.15 (Wentz)
3 Cone – 6.86 (Wentz)

RBs: 5112 214 – 4.49 (40) – 35.2’’ (Vertical) – 4.28 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.04 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.31 (Drake)
Highest Vertical – 41.5’’ (Lasco)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.20 (Taylor & DeAndre Washington)
3 Cone – 6.83 (Smallwood)

FBs: 6008 233 – 4.73 (40) – 35.3’’ (Vertical) – 4.25 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.20 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.60 (Vitale)
Highest Vertical – 38.5’’ (Vitale)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.12 (Vitale)
3 Cone – 7.12 (Vitale)

WRs: 6004 199 – 4.48 (40) – 35.2’’ (Vertical) – 4.24 (20 yard shuttle) – 6.92 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.29 (Hill)
Highest Vertical – 41’’ (Doctson & Shepard)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.06 (Hill)
3 Cone – 6.53 (Hill)

TEs: 6045 252 – 4.75 (40) – 32.9’’ (Vertical) – 4.27 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.00 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.64 (Adams)
Highest Vertical – 40’’ (DeValve)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.15 (DeValve)
3 Cone – 6.88 (Adams)

OTs: 6055 310 – 5.17 (40) – 28.2’’ (Vertical) – 4.73 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.90 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.94 (Spriggs)
Highest Vertical – 32.5’’ (Ifedi)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.44 (Spriggs)
3 Cone – 7.63 (Conklin)

OGs: 6043 304 – 5.19 (40) – 27.3’’ (Vertical) – 4.72 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.72 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.95 (Thuney)
Highest Vertical – 33’’ (McGovern)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.54 (Thuney)
3 Cone – 7.32 (Whitehair)

Cs: 6037 301 – 5.19 (40) – 27.5’’ (Vertical) – 4.64 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.54 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 5.13 (Glasgow)
Highest Vertical – 30’’ (Kelly)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.52 (Seumalo)
3 Cone – 7.40 (Seumalo)

DEs: 6044 273 – 4.83 (40) – 32.7’’ (Vertical) – 4.37 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.29 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.59 (Tapper)
Highest Vertical – 37.5’’ (Holmes)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.00 (McCalister)
3 Cone – 6.89 (Bosa)

DTs: 6028 304 – 5.07 (40) – 28.5’’ (Vertical) – 4.65 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.29 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.69 (Ridgeway)
Highest Vertical – 35’’ (Nkemdiche)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.50 (Day)
3 Cone – 7.25 (Onyemata)

OLBs: 6020 241 – 4.66 (40) – 34.1’’ (Vertical) – 4.36 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.18 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.42 (Weatherly)
Highest Vertical – 41’’ (Nicolas)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.20 (Lee & Correa)
3 Cone – 6.65 (James)

ILBs: 6010 240 – 4.72 (40) – 32.4’’ (Vertical) – 4.33 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.08 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.57 (Walker)
Highest Vertical – 37.5’’ (Walker)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.00 (Vigil)
3 Cone – 6.73 (Vigil)

CBs: 5114 194 – 4.47 (40) – 35.8’’ (Vertical) – 4.21 (20 yard shuttle) – 7.00 (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.33 (Brown)
Highest Vertical – 41.5’’ (Ramsey & Reed)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 3.98 (Hargreaves)
3 Cone – 6.60 (Caldwell)

Ss: 6004 204 – 4.56 (40) – 36.1’’ (Vertical) – 4.21 (20 yard shuttle) –  (3-Cone)
Fastest 40 – 4.42 (Grugier-Hill)
Highest Vertical – 40.5’’ (Nicolas)
Fastest Short Shuttle – 4.20 (Frazier & Fejedelem)
3 Cone – 6.58 (Simmons)