April 26, 2019

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: April 20-26
Well,  the first 32 picks are in the books. Here are a few observations from a football business point of view.

First, the firsts. Congratulations to Erik Burkhardt and the entire team at Houston-based Select Sports Group (SSG), which has its first-ever No. 1 overall pick in Oklahoma's Kyler Murray.  

The selection of TCU DE L.J. Collier by the Seahawks surprised many and put a smile on the faces of the people at Team Sports.

Murray's trip from erstwhile Oakland Athletic to maybe NFL prospect to top selection is one of the most unlikely and colorful

draft stories in recent memory, and SSG played a central role. Also, ITL combineprep partner TEST Football Academy had its first first-rounder since 2011 in "virtual unknown" Maryland FS Darnell Savage. Congrats to TEST, the title sponsor of the 2019 ITL Combine Seminar, and to Savage's agency, Branford, Conn.-based JL Sports. Also, a special 'way to go' goes out to Peter Ariz of Miami-based First-Round Management, the only first-year agent in the 2019 NFL Draft Class to represent a first-rounder (Alabama St. OT Tytus Howard, selected No. 23 by the Texans). Ariz, who co-reps Howard with Malki Kawa and Ethan Lock, is the first rookie agent to work with a top-32 pick since Tory Dandy, who had the No. 4 pick, Bills WO Sammy Watkins, in 2014. 

Other agency firsts: Young Money APAA Sports landed its highest pick ever in Alabama DT  Quinnen Williams (No. 3 to the Jets). It's the highest pick ever for agency principal Andy Simms, partner Ken Sarnoff, lead agent Nicole Lynn and the rest of the YMAPAA team, and highest pick since 2013 (Eagles OT  Lane Johnson, the No. 4 pick out of Oklahoma) for the firm formerly known as PlayersRep Sports. Finally, a big shout-out goes to Dallas-based Team Sports, which landed TCU DE  L.J. Collierin the first round (Seahawks, No. 29). It's the agency's first appearance in the premier round since 2012, when the firm's principal, Scott Casterline, assisted the late Albert Elias on Rams first-rounder  Michael Brockers (1/14, LSU). 
Based on what we heard from scouts immediately after the NFL Combine, the media was a lot more enthralled with Mississippi WO  D.K. Metcalf than NFL scouts were.  Five of seven scouts we polledimmediately after the combine said the Ole Miss pass-catcher was probably getting higher draft grades than warranted due to his workout in Indy. Sure enough, Metcalf,  who was a first-rounder on all seven services' draft boards as of April 12, is still available as the draft's second round begins Friday. 
Speaking of draft services, it wasn't a banner year for the top mock drafts. Three players that all seven services we tracked had in the first round - Florida OT  Jawaan  Taylor (average selection 12.6), Metcalf (18.7) and Washington DC  Byron  Murphy (20.1) are all still waiting to be picked. As of mid-April, The Athletic's Dane Brugler, ESPN's Todd McShay and Walter Football each had Taylor going No. 7, and the same three (Brugler, McShay and Walter) each had Metcalf at 15. Meanwhile, Murphy was slated to go at 9 by Pro Football Focus. 
On the other hand, there were also hits. McShay was the only prognosticator to correctly predict TCU DE  L.J. Collier would be a first-rounder (he mocked Collier at No. 32 to the Patriots). McShay was also one of just two services (Walter Football) which correctly tabbed Boston College OG  Chris  Lindstrom as a first-rounder. 
We frequently applaud Pro Football Focus (PFF) for going it alone with its selections and not being afraid to go out on a limb. This year, however, PFF - which was the first service to correctly predict that Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield would be the top pick last year - has some explaining to do. Admittedly, the March 7 rankings we used were  muchearlier than most, precluding them from figuring pro day performances and the like into their projections. Still, as of mid-April, their most recent forecasts had LSU DC  Greedy Williams, Murphy, Taylor, Kansas St. OT  Dalton Risner, Metcalf, Stanford WO  J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Oklahoma OT  Cody Ford, Penn St. DC  Amani Oruwariye, Ole Miss WO  A.J. Brown, Michigan St. DC  Justin Layne, Delaware DC  Nasir Adderley, Washington SS  Taylor Rapp, Massachusetts WO  Andy Isabella, Mississppi St. OC  Elgton Jenkins and Boston College DE  Zach Allen as first-rounders. That's 15 players, almost half the first round. Naturally, this is just a post-Thursday snapshot, and five years from now, PFF might be vindicated. 
For the second straight year, a player without representation was taken in the first round as Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons went No. 19 to the Titans. Last year, Louisville QB  Lamar  Jackson was the 32 ndpick to the Ravens. 
That's all from Day 1, but there will be plenty more as we dive into Rounds 2-7 over the next 48 hours. In the meantime, here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said in the business of college and pro football.
Mocking the mocks: Incidentally, if you want to get an overview of who really excels at mock drafts, Drew Boylhart of The Huddle Report  sent over their grades. Congratulations to  Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington, who finished with  27 players correctly predicted to go in the first round and 11 players correctly matched to teams("direct hits"). Standig edged out  Kevin Hanson of Eat Drink & Sleep Football, who maintains his lead in the five-year average category. Technically, scores don't become official until 6 p.m. CT. 
Get ready for Saturday: If you represent a client who's probably not going to be drafted, or who is strictly in tryout territory, we've got everything you need. First, bone up on the UDFA process by reading the accounts of how teams do it by former NFL scouts   Cal McCombs Aundrae Harris Jon Kingdon Matt Manocherian Jeff Bauer   and current Giants scout   Mike Murphy . Next, make sure you've got our email frames at the ready, and our NFL Scouts by Area grid so you'll know which scouts have evaluated your client. You'll also need to know which teams are holding rookie minicamps in Week 1 vs. Week 2, and you can do that with our 2019 Rookie Minicamp SlateLooking to make connections with a scout or coach who shares an alma mater with your client? Just this week, we posted our NFL Scouts by Alma Mater and NFL Coaches by Alma Mater, so you might want to give those pages a look.Not sure how many players at your client's position even get drafted, signed, etc.? You can research that in our NFL Draft by the Numbers series. We also did a three-part series this week on the undrafted free agent process with advice for players trying to find homes Saturday evening; that's in the ITL Rising Contract Advisor Newsletter, so review those in your inbox. Still panicked? Remember, there's still time to subscribe to ITL and get access to everything here, plus insights and tips. We'd love to have you.
The ITL Scouting Department:  On the other hand, you might find that having a former NFL scout alongside you this weekend would be valuable. Someone to advise you on the process, help you determine where the best fit might be, give you some of the personalities behind the names you see on the home pages, that kind of thing. We've matched our scouts with agent clients several times over the past few years, and we're at the ready to do it again. Want to know more? Want to talk to a scout? Let us know.
Succeed in Football: We've been remiss in highlighting our blog over the past month, but hopefully, you've been checking it regularly. If you have, you've read weekly Sports Tech columns by the  NFL Draft Bible's  Ric Serritella. Ric focuses on the changing game and how technological advances affect things between the lines, in the stands and in front offices. This week, he looks at  how Buffalo's state-of-the-art new facilities may have helped the Bills attract free agents, and  how the Seahawks are making it just a bit more appealingto enjoy a game in person. Last week,  he looked at innovations in scouting, while in early April, he checked in  how wearable technology might prompt a new snag in NFL labor negotiations. Check out all our posts, going back to June 2014,  here.
The ITL Rising Contract Advisor Newsletter: We're reaching the end of the line for our 2018-19 sequence. Soon, it will be June, and we'll start over by telling success stories from agents in the 2018 class. However, before we take a break, we'll walk through the coming week with daily insights on where the draft class stands and what a new contract advisor can do about it. We'll have reminders and tips Saturday, a few more looks at things on Sunday, then we'll dive into what's ahead in the following days. As always, all rookie agents get our reports, as long as they are ITL members. Get started  here.
Rep Rumblings: It was "the week before the week" at ITL as news started trickling out about what we could expect in NFL scouting changes post-draft. On  Monday, we remembered the late Reggie Cobb, who died over the weekend after serving as an area scout for the 49ers for a decade. We also had  rookie minicamp datesand a few scouting movement rumors.  Tuesday, we had recruiting buzz for 2020, agency news and more rookie mini info.  Wednesday, we took a long look at the Raiders and what might be afoot there after Saturday, plus we looked at one other team where change is in the offing and even had an XFL note. Finally, on  Thursday, we had Shrine Game buzz, a hot name in scouting to watch next week, and more rookie minicamp dates. Make sure to check out all our reports since Jan. 1  here
Next week: The first round is over, and the biggest headlines of the 2019 NFL Draft have been written. Still, the story is far from being told, and we've got two more huge days of picks that will have their own suspense and storylines. We'll have the complete pick-by-pick rundown of all three rounds soon after their completed tonight, with all the details you won't find anywhere else (training location, all-star game, combine invite) in our  2019 Draft by Pick grid. Come Monday, we'll start telling the story of the 2019 Selection Meeting with our usual post-draft analysis in the form of our  Draft Value Points by AgencyNon-Combine DrafteesUndrafted Combine InviteesTrainers by Value PointsAgencies by Value Points since '07and  Draft by the Numbers. Those should trickle out all next week; review all the features going back at least 10 years on our  All-Star and Draft Grids Collection page. Of course, the draft is just part of what makes late April/early May an important part of the news cycle, as we'll see several teams begin to realign their scouting departments over the next 30-60 days. In our  Rep Rumblingsreports, we'll do our best to keep up with everything as it happens and, hopefully, pass along the news before it breaks. It's going to be a big week; keep score of all the changes in the  2019 Scouting Changes Grid. Aside from the draft fallout and scouting movement, we'll have all our regular features. We hope to have our monthly  Agents by Total Clients list next week, and maybe our  Agent Changes for the March-to-April term. We'll also have five more of our  Profile Reports ( Bowling Green, BYU, Buffalo, California and  Central Florida next week) as well as another post from our weekly blog,  Succeed in Football. The week after the draft is traditionally one of the hottest weeks of the year for us as we sort out the aftermath as well as tracking the hiring and firing of evaluators who will be getting teams ready for 2020. If you're in the business, make sure you're following us on Twitter and, maybe  consider joining us, as well. 

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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