April 27, 2018
Greetings! 

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 21-27
The first round of the 2018 NFL draft is now in the books, and before we proceed with the second and third rounds tonight, let's take a break to look at the first 32 selections.
 
With the exception of one firm, CAA, the diversity among agencies in the first round last night was something we saw for a second straight year. About a third of the agencies with first-rounders this year (10) had none in the first last year. They are Capital Sports Advisors ( Baker Mayfield/1), Select Sports Group ( Bradley Chubb/5), Reign Sports ( Vita Vea/12), Octagon ( Kolton Miller/15), BTI Sports ( Leighton Vander Esch/19), IHC Sports ( Billy Price/21), Revolution Sports ( D.J. Moore/24), Enter-Sports ( Hayden Hurst/25), SportsTrust Advisors ( Calvin Ridley/26) and
Ohio State's Denzel Ward was the surprise No. 4 pick to Cleveland last night.
First Picks Sports ( Mike Hughes/30). Of those firms, three (Capital Sports Advisors, BTI Sports and Enter-Sports) had no one drafted before the sixth round last year, yet vaulted into the top 32 this year. Capital's success at the top of the draft represented the second time since 2015 (when Legacy Sports Advisors repped Florida State's Jameis Winston) that a firm outside the top 20 in draft value points signed the top pick in the draft.
 
For some firms, it was a return to prominence, including three firms who last tasted the first round in 2014. Octagon signaled that it's on the rebound with UCLA OT Kolton Miller at 15 (TCU DC Jason Verrett was picked 25 in '14), while SportsTrust Advisors had Alabama WO Calvin Ridley at 26 (Tennessee OT Ja'Wuan James was 19 in '14). Finally, Reign Sports, which was then still known as Foster and Easley Sports, had Washington DT Vita Vea at 12 (Washington State's Deone Bucannon went 27 in '14). But that's nothing compared to Enter-Sports, which had a player drafted on Thursday for the first time since '08 (Troy DC Leodis McKelvin at 11), when the draft didn't even start until Saturday.
 
There's also good news for younger agents from smaller firms. Two first-round picks, Vea and Moore, were represented by agents (Vea by Reign Sports' Collin Roberts and Moore by Revolution Sports' Damarius Bilbo) that were certified less than five years ago, while one other, Price, was repped by IHC Sports' four agents, including Andrew Kabat and Shannon Polk (2014) and Daniel Connell (2015) who have been licensed by the NFLPA less than four years. All three agencies are outside the top 20 firms in value points since '07, including Revolution Sports (42), IHC Sports (72) and Reign Sports (79).
 
This is not to say the big firms, or perhaps we should say firm, didn't dominate. Last year, CAA dominated the first round with 10,775 value points, a significant jump from its 2016 total (7,910). This year, the mega-firm made another significant jump, moving to 13,970 points, more than 10,000 points higher than the second-place finisher (Roc Nation with 3,500 points). Also of note: Lagardere Sports' Joel Segal continued a 13-year string of having at least two first-rounders. You have to go back to the 2005 draft, when Auburn QB Jason Campbell (1/25, Washington) was his only pick in the first 32, to find a year when Segal didn't have at least two Day 1 selections.
 
Also continuing its dominance was EXOS, which racked up 17,775 value points among its three facilities with first-rounders, as well as the underclassmen who joined the draft, as once again the majority (18 picks) were non-seniors. Last year, the total was 22, while in 2016 and 2015 there were 17 each.
 
Finally, as we examine the draft experts whose mock drafts we've examined in previous editions of our newsletter, a few stood out. Only Pro Football Focus accurately predicted Mayfield would be the top pick a full nine days before the draft, when dozens of prognosticators shifted their mocks to reflect the growing buzz on the Sooners passer. Only two draft services (Bleacher Report and NFL Draft Scout) had Barkley at 2 about a week before the draft, while Bleacher Report stood alone as the only firm with USC QB Sam Darnold at 3. None of the seven firms we monitored had Ohio State DC Denzel Ward in its top five as of April 17, and only PFF had Arkansas OC Frank Ragnow as a first-rounder as much as a week ago. Also, Walter Football was the lone service that accurately predicted that Ohio State's Billy Price would go in the first 32 a week ago. The only player selected in the first round, but not seen as a top-32 player by any of the services a week ago, was Virginia Tech SS Terrell Edmunds.
 
Also worth noting: picking the draft a year out is not easy. Not one - not one - of the seven services had Mayfield anywhere in their first round in their first post-draft mock last May. A year later, he's the top pick. Also selected last night, but not listed as a first-rounder last May by any of the seven services, was almost half the first round, including Georgia IB Roquan Smith, Virginia Tech OB Tremaine Edmunds, UTSA DE Marcus Davenport, San Diego St. OH Rashaad Penny, Boise St. IB Leighton Vander Esch, Georgia OT Isaiah Wynn, Florida DT Taven Bryan, Alabama OB Rashaan Evans, Central Florida DC Mike Hughes, Maryland WO D.J. Moore, UCLA OT Kolton Miller, South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst and Georgia OH Sony Michel. Only Bleacher Report had Ward anywhere in its top 23 (at 25), while only PFF nailed Ragnow as a first-rounder (at 21, just one pick later than he was selected). Meanwhile, all seven services had SMU WO Courtland Sutton, LSU DE Arden Key, Boston College DE Harold Landry and Florida St. DC Tarvarus McFadden as first-rounders. Six of seven services had Key as a top-10 pick, with none of them seeing him slide past 11.
 
The draft has much, much more to tell us, and we're only 32 picks in. Like you, we can't wait to see what's next, starting tonight. We'll have more analysis as we go. In the meantime, here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said last week in the world of college and pro football.
 
Need any help?: While the ratings will go down and the media frenzy will recede a bit, the draft gains momentum for people in the business tonight, and especially tomorrow. Maybe your agency would benefit from having a member of the ITL Scouting Department on your side? We have six firms already lined up to work with our scouts this weekend and room for several more. Our evaluators can help you craft a strategy for your clients; find out information from their network that you might not have; and make sense of what teams tell you (or don't tell you) about your client? And we can put them together with you over the weekend for less than a plane ticket. You've come this far - why take chances? This will be our third big year of partnering our scouting team with agencies big and small across the business. Need more information? Email us and let's get to work.
 
Is the WWE calling?: This weekend, there will be 256 picks in the draft, followed by another 250-300 players signing as undrafted free agents to 90-man rosters.  That leaves more than 1,000 players signed to SRAs this year that are left looking for other opportunities.  WWE is providing that opportunity! If your client finishes the weekend without a selection, a contract, or an invitation, WWE wants to learn more about them. There are a number of current and former WWE superstars that have come through the same college/pro football channels. Football players possess the skill set, physical makeup and other tools necessary to perhaps become the next Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. WWE is offering an invite-only tryout and is interested in evaluating former college and pro football players of all positions.  This opportunity is an all-expenses-paid tryout for two and a half days in Orlando, Fla., at the WWE Performance Center.  If you think your client would like to learn more about the WWE, the WWE would love to learn more about him.  There are also perks for the agents referring qualified candidates.  Start by emailing ITL's Neil Stratton today to discuss next steps.  The WWE is confident that once players learn more, they will see it as an exciting opportunity.  Inquire today!
 
We've been busy: As you know, we've had plenty of content in our pages this week, and as we're running out of room to talk about it, we'll summarize here. We spotlighted Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, Boise State and Boston College in our Profile Reports. We had two Rep Rumblings reports, mainly focused on scouting changes we're hearing of that are slated for next week, plus we passed along the rookie minicamp dates we have so far. In our ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter, we had a three-part series on the UDFA Drill, and in our weekly blog, Succeed in Football, we had seven scouts who laid out what they would do if they owned the first pick in the draft and were faced with the names of Barkley, Darnold, Mayfield and others. We wrapped the week with a list of all NFL coaching staffs and the alma maters of each coach on the teams. It's the kind of info that might help during the UDFA spring Saturday. We also plugged in information on training facilities for several combine invitees who had eluded us so far. We'll be back with our original content in all the same places next week.
 
Next week: The week after the draft is always as big, or bigger, than the week of the draft at Inside the League. First of all, Bloody Sunday is just about 36 hours away. Though there's no guarantee we'll see a whole scouting staff let go, lock, stock and barrel, like we did in Buffalo last year, we'll start to see the first changes in personnel lineups as early as Saturday night and Sunday morning. We've heard rumors of major changes ahead in Houston, Oakland, New England, Cleveland, Green Bay and maybe Kansas City. We'll have our ears to the ground at ITL Central all weekend and into next week, and we'll be passing along the news as we hear it via our Twitter account, on The Scouting Network Twitter account, and, of course, in our Rep Rumblings reports. Make sure you're following along if you're interested in what happens behind the scenes in NFL scouting departments. You can also keep score on what's already happened in the 2018 ITL Scouting Changes grid. Already there are 32 names on our big board, with 70-80 (at least) to go. We'll also spend the week examining the 2018 NFL draft and making sense of it, sifting out the important facts and unearthing the trends that have meaning. Naturally, we'll have the complete draft, with agency, training facility, all-star game played in, class and combine invitation/no invitation in our 2018 NFL Draft by Pick. However, we'll also total the draft points for all agencies and run them down, first to last, and we'll list all the non-combine draftees by agency as well as those players fortunate enough to be invited to Indy but, sadly, not drafted. We'll also track the combine trainers (again, by value points) as well as the agencies. There's much more, of course. We'll also have another post in our blog for people in the industry, Succeed in Football, and we'll have five more schools ( Bowling Green, BYU, Buffalo, California and Central Florida) featured in our 2018 Profile Reports. We'll also run our newsletter series for new agents, the ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter, for one last week as we sweep up post-draft and get our clients squared away for '18 and up and running for '19. And with the NFL draft over, it's probably time to start focusing on the ITL Practice Agent Exam for everyone who's looking at taking the NFLPA exam for veteran contract advisors in about a month. Be sure to let us know if you're interested in our study guide, as well. We'll also be plowing full-speed ahead with the ITL Scouting Department, though we're expecting (and hoping) to have some vacancies on our team after the next couple weeks, so make sure to get your requests in early! Don't think for a minute that it's time to let down, now that the draft is over. We're just getting started. Let's keep sprinting to the finish line together

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
President
Inside the League

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