May 10, 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: May 4-10
After most of three decades in Dallas, Tom Ciskowski (right) won't be around to help Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on draft day anymore. 

We're two weeks past the 2019 NFL Draft, which means we're almost two weeks into the NFL's unofficial season of hiring and firing scouts and evaluators. We've chronicled exactly 50 moves in NFL front offi ces over the last 3-4 months, which is about half the number of moves that typically take place before the end of July. Here are a few observations.
  • As usual, it's been rough sledding for veteran scouts looking to get back into the league. So far, there have been seven area scout slots filled by NFL teams (the Broncos, Bills and Texanshad two each and the Falcons had one) in the last four months. In three instances - when the Broncos hired former Texans national scout Frantzy Jourdain to man the southeast this season and the Bills brought in Mike Szabo (Panthers) and A.J. Highsmith (49ers) - a team went outsideits organization to make a hire. The other four jobs were filled in-house, mostly by young scouts in pro scouting or assistant roles. Note that these numbers will change as the Giants fill two area vacancies and the 49ers fill the vacancy created by the passing of Reggie Cobb
  • For what it's worth, three equally experienced area scouts (10 years-plus in the league) who were let go after the '18 draft are no longer in the NFL, while seven such evaluators dumped after the '17 draft have not returned to the league.
  • Meanwhile, four of the five veteran scouts who've been shed by NFL teams this year - all but one of them with 10-plus years of experience -- are still without a new job (two more departed via retirement in addition to Cobb's passing). Only Jourdain has latched on with a new organization. Hopefully the arrival of the XFL will provide a new landing place for several of the evaluators now on the market. 
  • Speaking of the XFL, sources tell us former Jets Director of College Scouting Jeff Bauer,who has been part of the ITL Scouting Departmentin the past, is back in pro football. We've learned he'll join the staff of the St. Louis XFL franchise along with Trey Brown, another former Director of College Scouting (with the Eagles). Last month, St. Louis named former NFL player and coach Jonathan Hayesas its first-ever head coach. Congratulations to everyone with the St. Louis franchise as well as everyone at all levels with the XFL.
  • Congrats go out to New York's Steve Devine and Dallas' Tom Ciskowski, two veterans of the scouting business who are riding into the sunset. Ciskowski has already been the subject of numerous news stories commemorating his three decades with the team, including this one. Devine joined the Giants in 2001 and in his almost two decades with the team, New York won Super Bowls in '07 and '11. Devine and Ciskowski join former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsomein calling it a career, though Newsome remains with Baltimore in a consulting capacity.
  • Ciskowski's retirement creates one of two vacancies in Dallas, which is a little unusual. Since we started tracking scouting moves in 2012, the Cowboys have not lost more than one member of their evaluation staff in a single offseason. That continuity is one reason why the Cowboys have won division titles in three of the last five seasons while going 48-32. So far this year, due to promotion and retirement, the front office has already lost two membersand might soon lose a third.  
The exits and arrivals in NFL front offices are far from over; stay with us as we track them over the next several weeks. In the meantime, here's a look at what we heard, saw, read and said in the world of college and pro football over the past week.
ITL Agent Exam Prep Materials: The last time there was a CBA negotiation, the NFLPA decided there was too much on the agenda to offer the agent exam. That means that if you fail the exam this summer, there's (probably) no going back for a second try in 2020. In other words, you better get it right the first time. Hey, we're here for you. We have a study guide - a must-buy for anyone preparing for the exam, if we do say so ourselves - plus two (2) 40-question practice exams that will get you ready for every question you'll face when you sit down in D.C. For a limited time, you can get all three for less than $500. They are the industry standard for anyone getting ready to take the agent test. You can get the lowdown on all of them, including testimonials and links to purchase, by clicking  here.
The ITL Scouting Department: The 2019 NFL Draft is over, but 2020 beckons. We're already writing reports for some of the top prospects for '20, and our team is ready to serve. Last year, our scouts wrote just under 300 reports on players in the '19 draft, which was about a hundred more than we wrote for the '18 draft. Don't waste time chasing players #DraftTwitter loves but the scouts don't. Get started here.
Agents by Total Clients (April): Yes, it's been almost two weeks since April ended and we're more than three weeks behind where we normally run our monthly report, but at long last, here it is. We counted 98 agents with at least 10 clients. Check them out here
Sizing up the '19 Draft: This week, we had three more features designed to shed light on the winners and losers, from a business standpoint, in this year's selection meeting. On Monday, we began updating the  2019 Draft by the Numbers, and found out that defensive ends were as popular as ever (almost a fifth of the defensive ends signed to SRAs  were drafted) and that fullbacks were surprisingly popular (three of 10 at the position who were signed by agents were selected by NFL teams; it represented the most fullbacks drafted since 2016). We've still got a lot of blanks to fill, but we're getting there. Tuesday, we added up the value points and totaled them up for our grid, which tracks all sums since 2007. We found out that CAA led the way, which didn't surprise anyone, though there was a change in the top 10, which is newsworthy.  Find out who it was by checking the list. Finally, on Wednesday,  we looked at the agencies that had the most combine invitees who went undrafted. We found out that it was a rough year for Octagon and a handful of others. In all, 61 agencies represented the 117 draft-day snubs, including several major firms.
Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: For the last seven weeks, we've turned over our blog to Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible. He's given us a unique look at where the game is going, and how innovation is coming to fans, players and executives.  This week, Ric looked at the extraordinary popularity of EA Sports' Madden Football, which has gone from a pastime to a profession. Not only does the game have an intense global following, a livestream and a blog, but it's become a way for video game enthusiasts  to make real money. What's more, there's now a feature that allows you to create your own character that looks like you, giving you a chance to advance from high school 7-on-7 phenom to early draft pick. Read about the growing Madden world as well as  Kyler Murray's latest off-field partnership in  this week's post.
Rep Rumblings: With so much transition in the scouting community, there was no shortage of things to write about.  On Monday, we took a long look at the hires in Oakland as well as the potential hires there, based on what we've heard. We also looked at rumored changes in Cleveland and New England, and of course, we updated  our big board with the latest news we broke.  Tuesday, we looked at what might be happening in Baltimore and Arizona; we had a key personnel hire in the XFL; and took time to track the recruiting race for 2020 as it relates to one of the draft's top running backs.  Wednesday, we focused on what's happening with the Bay Area's two teams, noted the changes we announced in Houston, and had info on the Spring League's Summer Showcase slated for Orange County next month.  Thursday, we ran down the rash of post-draft agent terminations by a handful of draftees (two of them drafted before Saturday!). We also detailed a startling potential scouting move and looked at what's happening in Carolina and Denver. If you care about the scouting community, how it's changing, and how all the pieces fit, make sure you're reading our Rep Rumblings, which you can access  here
Next week:The draft is behind us but we've got a lot of work to do. We've developed a serious backlog on our  Profile Reportsafter not publishing any since the draft, and we've got a lot of catching up to do.  Bowling Green, BYU, Buffalo, California and Central Florida are next up. Soon, we'll be re-launching the  ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletteras we tell the stories of first-year agent success and celebrate so many contract advisors (and members of the ITL family) who are living out their dreams. But before we do that, we have to track all the UDFA signings and tryouts for all 32 teams ( as we did last year), and with rookie minicamps wrapping up this weekend, we'll put the hammer down on gathering that information this week. It's a big job, but we'll get busy. We're also running behind on publishing the  Agent Changes for April to May; that's on the way. We've also got two more big reports breaking down the 2019 NFL Draft: our  Trainers by Value Points grid ( here's last year's), which has become more popular every year, and our  2019 Draft Class by the Numbers board, which provides an analytics-oriented insight into how teams value players and build their rosters in the modern game. And last but not least, we'll be building out our  Scouting Changes Grid, the leading place to track all the movement in team front offices when it comes to evaluation positions. Of course, we break all the news first on  our Twitter account, in  our Rep Rumblings, or maybe even in our weekly blog,  Succeed in Football. Now that it's May, we're also hearing more and more from the aspiring contract advisors who'll be using  our study guide and our practice exams in preparation for July in Washington, D.C. And last but not least, we're not quite ready with our  Fast 50list, our recognition of the 50 top young college coaches that are the next generation of Power 5 head coaches. We're excited about this new feature and we're working to make sure we get it right; we hope to feature it next Friday in the Wrap. We're also working on a new project that will help smooth the transition from scout to GM for a select group of NFL professionals; for more info, drop us a line. The on-field action has slowed down for now but things are as busy as ever off the field.  We're happy to help you keep up with everything you need to know. 

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
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