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 (
/1), Select Sports Group (
/5), Reign Sports (
/12), Octagon (
/15), BTI Sports (
Leighton Vander Esch
/19), IHC Sports (
/21), Revolution Sports (
/24), Enter-Sports (
/25), SportsTrust Advisors (
||Ohio State's Denzel Ward was the surprise No. 4 pick to Cleveland last night.
First Picks Sports (
/30). Of those firms, three (Capital Sports Advisors, BTI Sports and Enter-Sports) had no one drafted before the
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
) 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
at 15 (TCU DC
was picked 25 in '14), while SportsTrust Advisors had Alabama WO
at 26 (Tennessee OT
was 19 in '14). Finally, Reign Sports, which was then still known as Foster and Easley Sports, had Washington DT
at 12 (Washington State's
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
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
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.
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
. We had two
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.
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
The Scouting Network Twitter account
, and, of course, in our
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
) 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