Oct. 26, 2018

This email is directed at anyone in the pro and college football business. Already a client? Here's a review of the week. Not a client? We'd love to have you aboard.
The Week in Football: Oct. 20-26
In its four years giving top draft prospects a forum for improving their respective statuses with NFL teams, the College Gridiron Showcase has gone from a questionable game with unfamiliar people running it to an established platform with a fixed spot on the January
CGS co-founder Jose Jefferson (center) may have a little help populating rosters this year.
all-star calendar. That's mostly due to the hundreds of players the game has sent to NFL camps (and rosters), but also because the game has taken chances and been innovative.

Among those innovations have been:
  • Going away from the standard 'five practices, then a broadcast game' format to three padded practices, followed by a spring game-style, 48-play end-of-week scrimmage which is more scout-friendly while avoiding the six-figure fees associated with a broadcast.
  • Asking players and their agents to help shoulder the financial weight of lodging and travel to help keep costs down.
  • Taking over the player interview process and changing it from a piecemeal, catch-as-catch-can operation to an organized, one-day affair in which CGS staff members fetch players from an adjacent room. 
As Year 5 approaches, CGS co-founders Jose Jefferson and Craig Redd are nearing the announcement of the CGS' most exciting innovation yet. The game's owners are in talks with a leader in the sports analytics field, Sports Info Solutions (SIS) to partner with the game during the evaluation and invitation phase. To reemphasize, nothing is official yet, but the wheels are turning and we're told there's a good chance an agreement is forged.

Though there isn't yet a formal deal, the game's organizers would work with SIS to help populate rosters. Jefferson and Redd will continue to conduct their own scouting and identification of players for the All Star (Wranglers), Select (Desperados), small college (Marshalls) and free agent (Gauchos) groups, working in conjunction with NFL scouts and contacts across the league. However, they would also work with SIS to locate deep sleepers that may not check all the boxes with rank-and-file league evaluators.

In return, SIS, which already has significant market share in pro baseball and basketball, will have a high profile at the game. Expect to see signage at the weigh-ins as well as in the interview room, as well as plenty more about what SIS does and can provide on the CGS website. Members of the Inside the League family already know all about SIS as its Director of Football Development, Matt Manocherian, was the guest speaker at the 2017 ITL Combine Seminar as well as a member of our scouting panel at the 2018 ITL Combine Seminar, both held at the Indiana Convention Center. Matt is not only a former NFL scout (Saints, Browns), but he's the central evangelist for SIS with NFL teams and heads the company's growing work with league clients. Sports Info Solutions is a difference-maker in the analytics arena and has been pushing the envelope on outside-the-box analysis for decades now.

What percentage of the rosters will be the result of SIS input? Will there be any way to know which invitees were SIS favorites? It's too early to tell, and it would be a big surprise if rosters looked significantly different from previous years. At the same time, this gives the analytics community a new way to spotlight its top picks and the scouting community to see how some players that might not have previously seen all-star attention perform on the all-star stage.
Once again, nothing is final and the two parties are still finalizing all the details. As partners of the game, we at Inside the League are excited to see how it all plays out and hope all parties can come to an agreement. In the meantime, here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said in the business of college and pro football this week.

Succeed in Football (cont.): Today in our weekly blog, Succeed in Football, we listed the names of six football professionals in the college and pro place who would be great hires for the XFL as it builds out the football side of its venture. For a rundown of the first six names, click here. Here are six more we like in alphabetical order.
  • Jerry Reese, former GM, Giants: I'm told Reese made it pretty far in interviews to name a new Senior Bowl executive director and a new scouting director for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He didn't land either job, but those games' losses could be the XFL's gain. 
  • Mark Ross, former Director of Player Personnel, Giants: From the moment Ross was let go by the Giants last year, I've been told he'll get a new job quickly, so you know he's highly respected. If he doesn't wind up with something after the '19 draft, he'd be a great pickup by the XFL. 
  • John Idzik, Special Assistant to the GM, Jaguars: Idzik was given only two years as GM of the Jets. That's not very long. What's more, he didn't really get to execute his plan, as he'd cleared cap space and was ready to roll when on-field results cost him his job. He probably deserves another shot.
  • James Kirkland, Director of Player Personnel, Illinois: James has a great eye for talent and the courage of his convictions. If the XFL chooses to centralize a lot of its scouting (as the AAF has wisely done), it would be a good idea to have a person like James on its team.
  • Matt Lindsey, Director of Player Personnel, South Carolina: Along with Cody, Matt is part of a vanguard of young personnel professionals at top colleges across the nation. He's got NFL experience with the Eagles, and I have personally seen his work (he was part of our interview prep team for the '17 draft) and I've been impressed.
  • Doug Whaley, Director of Scouting, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and former GM, Bills: Doug just landed the NFLPA gig and has big plans for the game, but he's got lots of energy and good ideas. Again, these are the things you need when you're launching a startup. He'd be a smart choice if he could be pried away.
The ITL Scouting Department: There are five days left in October, and we're in a good mood. Time for a sale. We've got 120 reports written on members (and prospective members) of the '19 draft class. The vast majority have draft grades; we're not talking a bunch of scrubs. For the next five days - through Halloween - we're offering them at half-price. For $50 (plus tax) per report, or for $100 for three, we'll give our clients a copy of the reports we already have on file. Original reports will remain $100 plus tax. For a list of the 100 players, coast to coast, that we've already written. It's a chance to save a little coin and get a better idea of the prospects at the schools where you're already recruiting. Want to see the list of players? Email us and request the list ( or click here), and we'll be happy to ship it over. But hurry! Just five days left.

Agents by Clients: This week, we had our monthly report on who's in the lead on total clients. As usual, Miami Beach, Fla.-based Drew Rosenhaus leads the way with 99 active NFL clients. To get a look at the complete list, click here.

Rep Rumblings: This week, we had three reports chock full of buzz and whispers on the game behind the game. On Monday, we looked at the trainer space and two legendary names in combine prep who've left the arena to sign on with NFL teams and why that might be happening. We also had recruiting buzz, an up-and-coming agent who's changing addresses, and more. Wednesday, we had more recruiting buzz, an all-star note (on our favorite game), a change in the scouting lineup for one AAF team and other notes. Thursday, we had hot recruiting buzz on three top members of the '19 draft class plus a look at who's doing what in the AAF's central office. If you want to know what's happening in the game that no one else is writing about, click here to check all our reports from 2018.

Next week: Halloween is coming up, but we're saving the party for another time. There's too much to do. Next week, we'll try again to have Agent Changes for the September-to-October period after we weren't able to get to it this week. Yes, we know: this time of year, with recruiting at a fever pitch, our Agent Changes lists are very popular. We'll try to catch up, and we're targeting Tuesday for our report. We're also hoping to have our annual look at agencies (not agents) by clients on Thursday, but again, write that in pencil, not pen. Here's last year's list. We'll also have two (and maybe more) Rep Rumblings reports, with all the good stuff associated with October/November/December and the recruiting race. But that's not all. We'll look at the evaluation staffs of five new teams - the Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons and Giants - in our Know Your Scouts series, giving us 16 to go. We need to keep up the pace so we can get going on our 2019 All-Star Invitation big board and, of course, our Signings Grid for 2019. At the end of the week, we're looking to update the 2019 ITL 250 and the 2020 ITL 100 for November, with an assist from the ITL Scouting Director, Danny Shimon, plus input from several friends in the industry. We're expecting to review all the changes in next week's Friday Wrap. Behind the scenes, we're working on a number of projects. This week may be the week we finally have a link to sell our new (and first) book, Moving the Chains: A Parent's Guide to the NFL Draft. We're also scrambling to record interviews with our various partners in the combine prep space in an attempt to help contract advisors, draft prospects, parents and others have a better sense of who they are and what they offer to aspiring draftees. If you're a trainer who's part of the ITL family (or aspires to be), and you've got 15 minutes this week for a quick interview, we'd love to hear from you so we can put you on the schedule for ITL Trainer Talk. Also: we've got our expert working on a study guide and an upgraded practice test for the MLBPA exam as well as the same for the NBPA
In a few months, there will be a second class of 'graduates' from the CGS Scouting Workshop Presented by Inside the League to join the initial group from 2018 (pictured).
exam, so if you're planning on taking either or both, make sure to let us know so we can let you know when they are ready. We're also hoping to get the ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter started a week from Monday (Nov. 5), and we're working on moving the ITL Combine Trainers Marketplace from behind the wall to a new site. We think it will make this platform even more helpful and a better way to attract interest to our training partners. Finally, if you aspire to be an NFL scout, make sure to clear space on the calendar for the CGS Scouting Workshop in Fort Worth on Saturday, Jan. 5. The exact location and schedule of speakers is still in the works, but we know we'll be back with even more great information about what scouts do and how they do it, straight from the horse's mouth. Speaking of horses, whether you're recruiting, scouting or trying to win on Saturday or Sunday, we're all racing to the finish line right now. Why not join the ITL family? There's safety in numbers.  

Inside The League is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $29.95/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here. Also check out our new free blog, Succeed in Football. Copyright Neil Stratton and ITL 2015.

Sincerely, Neil Stratton
Inside the League

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