Right now here is the schedule for the 2021 College Football All-Star Game Calendar – As we all know subject to change due to Covid-19
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of summer, people normally will get together to BBQ and spend time with family and friends. It is also normally the official kick-off to the next years NFL Draft scouting process where the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) have their annual meetings in Florida to read their spring grades on the upcoming senior prospects and go over the information that was gathered in the late winter/early spring at “Junior Days” on college campuses. Which this year due to COVID-19 those “Junior Days” did not happen. You might ask why does this even matter – I give you S Kyle Dugger. This time last year most of the football world did not even know who Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne was. In the 2020 NFL Draft he was the 37th player drafted, the second safety drafted, and the New England Patriots first pick in the draft.
The last player drafted out of Lenoir-Rhyne was DL John Milem in the 5th round in 2000 by the San Fransico 49ers who played 20 games in the NFL in his career, and before Dugger was Lenoir-Rhyne highest player drafted ever. So not a hot bed of NFL talent when it comes to Lenoir-Rhyne history, which if you are wondering the school is in Hickory, North Carolina.
But that is why Junior Days are so import for small school prospects to be able to get on the radar for NFL teams, as well as the NFL Combine and All-Star games like the Senior Bowl in which Duger went to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. Last spring when BLETSO and National scouts came to Lenoir-Rhyne and did what they normal do with all Senior prospects a school has, getting their height/weight/arm length/hand size as well as some schools allow guys to run the 40. This past spring Duger was 6005/218 and ran a verified 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. So with his Junior film and his verified measurements both scouting services gave him a high grade but not close to a grade where he got drafted, but it got him on the radar to get invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine both hugely important for a small school prospect like him. At the NFL Combine he was 6007/217 and ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, not too much different from his spring numbers.
Without “Junior Days” this year because of COVID – 19 it will be harder for people to identify this year’s Kyle Duger.
This Memorial Day weekend both BLETSO and National will still hold their “Spring Grade” meeting but after talking with scouts it will be over Zoom instead of in person like normal. But without “Junior Days” small school prospects will have a harder time then in the past to be truly evaluated and get a legitimate opportunity.
The grades are just a road map for scouts as we have seen in the past 3 seasons all three number one overall picks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray & Joe Burrow) have come basically out of nowhere since all of them had less then a 4th round grade going into the season when their last season started. But it is a road map that is need as their are thousands of college football seniors, and the “Spring grades” not only identify who to evaluate but also who the scouts doesn’t need to spend their time evaluating.
College Football All-Star games are part of the pre-draft process that is more important then the NFL Combine and Pro Days because it is football and scouts can evaluate good on good players. The Senior Bowl is the best all-star game and one that all Senior prospects want to get invited to. Here is the amount of draft picks per all-star games.
Getting invite to an all-star can help out a NFL Draft prospect rise his draft status if he takes advantage.
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. Agents know that NFL Scouts have access to all the film via the NFL Distribution Center so a scout can pull up any game wherever he is at. Agents need to be selling the film to the NFL scouts and then coaches when they get involved in the process.
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. Two of the first things off the field in terms of marketing is a trading card deal and a shoe deal, but these deals will be different based on how high the player is projected to be drafted as well as what position that he plays.
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.
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 Football Scouting (NFS) to give them an idea of who the prospects that the NFL likes. Then they will see what players have played well in there senior year. All-Star games will speak with scouts to get their opinion on who they would like to see or who they think is worthy of being invited to the game.
One of the big reasons that spring grades are so important is they are the starting point when it comes to all-star games and the NFL combine. National Football Scouting runs the NFL Combine so knowing and inviting who they had graded higher in the spring the more likely the prospect will be invited to 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 the invite to their game, other games will send the invite to the school and have the coaches give the invite to the player.
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.
In the College Football season and the NFL Draft process we are coming up on the midway point. NFL Scouts have been to training camp to look at the prospects that had spring grades from National or BLETSO and they have watched film on prospects from the first couple of weeks, seen players live both in practice and games and will keep doing that as we get to the end of the season. If you are a college football player what is going on now is the following:
If you were not graded in the spring as a draftable or free-agent prospect by the two scouting services (BLETSO & National) you need to dominate or keep dominating so you can get on the scouts radar because scouts aren’t looking to add guys they are looking to eliminate them as a prospect for their team.
All-Star Games (Senior Bowl, East West Shrine, NFLPA) – Their first round of invites will go out this month. Some coaches keep them and don’t give them to their players until later in the season but if you didn’t get an invite yet you still can but that tells you what they NFL thinks of you right now. Meaning they don’t see you as a draftable prospect at this time.
Scouting – Right now the area scout from all 32 teams has been to your school or seen you on film. They aren’t the decision maker for their team if they are going to draft you or sign you their job in the gather information and have an opinion for their boss the General Manager or Director of College Scouting. But if they don’t think you can play at the next level less likely that any of the higher up will do any work on your film.
Scheme Fit – Teams are looking for players that fit the scheme that they are running on offense and defense so you could be a good player but if you don’t fit the scheme or have the size that they are looking for in that scheme you most likely will be eliminated for their draft board.
Background Checks – Scouts are looking to find out all the information they can for anyone that knows you from the strength coaches to people on campus to see if there is any trouble in your pass or if you are a good person.
Coaches – If the NFL thinks there is an NFL prospect at the school it has talked to at least one of the coaches on the staff and most likely the head coach to see if the coach or coaches would recommend their player or just their overall thoughts on the player.
The season is not over the process is still going but it is closer to the end then the beginning.
After the NFL Draft is over many players are 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 Baker Mayfield two years ago, no one thought he would go number one overall even a week before the draft, before the season started and even during the season a lot of teams had him graded as a third round pick. This time last year no one thought Kyler Murray was going to be the first overall pick or even play football at all.
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.), help you in the pre-draft process, 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. We have seen players move up draft boards based on all-star game performances or fall down draft boards because they didn’t test like they played.
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 and skills about the pre-draft process 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. In the end the film doesn’t lie.
Is it against NCAA rules for players and parents to talk to agents?
No – It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for agent representation is not established or nothing of value is giving to an athlete) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his own transportation and paid for his or her meal.
Will NFL teams or scouts provide their spring grades on the player from the two scouting service (BLETSO & National)?
No – The scouting services (BLETSO & National) keep their information private and do not share it with players, parents, coaches, agents, trainers, etc. Does the information leak out there from time to time and are people able to get their hands on it, yes but it doesn’t come from the two organizations directly.
How do BLETSO and National come up with the spring grades?
Both scouting service will come in the spring and evaluate the upcoming senior’s by watching film of the prospects junior year, talking to the strength and conditioning staff, the coaching staff, and the academic staff at the school about the prospects. Some schools allow the scouts to come in and measure the prospects height, weight, hands size, arm length as well as have the prospects take the Wonderlic Test. Some schools will even allow the scouts to time their players in the 40 yard dash, but very schools will allow this now.
Can players, parents and coaches contact the College Football All-Star games to recommend a player for the All-Star game?
Yes – Anyone can contact the All-Star games (Senior Bowl, East West Shrine Game, NFLPA Bowl, etc.) to recommend a player and the sooner the better to make sure the player in on the games watch list or at least on the games radar that they would be interested in playing in the game. The best person to contact is the director of the game.
How does getting invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis work?
National Football Scouting, one of the two scouting service that NFL team use run it, they have a committee of 10 members and they vote on the players that are selected. Having a good spring grade goes along way to getting selected because spring grades are a road map to where NFL scouts are going to go and watch and evaluate prospects.
When can a player sign with an agent?
When his college eligibility is totally done (after last game, and college team has no more games) as a senior or if a player is going to declare early for the NFL draft he has to be 3 years removed from high school and once he declares for the NFL Draft he forfeits the rest of his college eligibility.
What is the maximum an agent can charge from the player NFL contact?
Per the NFLPA rules the maximum an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors (agents) can charge is 3% – The agent only get paid after the player get paid off of the players signing bonus or other bonuses in the contract and the base salary.
What is the normal commission fee for marketing and off the field money made for the player?
Agents or marketing firms usually charge between 10% and 15% commission on marketing and off the field money.
Does a player have to hire an agent?
No – But NFL teams are only allowed to talk to NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors that represent the player or the player themselves. They are not allowed to negotiate with family members or other non-certified people and if they do the team could possible lose future draft choices.
How does a player sign with an agent (NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors)?
They player signs what is called an SRA (Standard Representation Agreement) that is from the NFLPA and is standard for all players. By sign this is also makes the player part of the NFLPA and Players Inc. (The marketing arm of the NFLPA). At any time the players can fire the agent and has to wait 5 days to hire another agent to represent him.
What are the steps that go into getting a Senior prospect final grade?
- Junior Day
- Junior Film Study
- Spring Grades
- Training Camp Visits (By NFL Scouts)
- Regular Season/Post Season
- College Football All-Star Games
- NFL Combine
- Pro Day/Individual Works Outs
- Team Grades (From Scouts, Front Office & Coaches)
- NFL Draft
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.
In this years Senior Bowl the game had 10 first round draft picks and 93 overall and saw QB Daniel Jones, Duke who was the game MVP, helped himself be the number overall six pick by the New York Giants.
In the 2018 Senior Bowl QB Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen both played in the game and both helped their stock and both end up in the top 10 in the NFL Draft.
QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State who end up as the number two pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagles raised 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.
But it is not just about the Senior Bowl, all the All-Star games matter, the East West Shrine game, the NFLPA Bowl, Tropic Bowl, College Gridiron Show, etc. All-Star games are the second most import thing in the draft evaluation process after the prospects season film evaluation.