July 13, 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: July 7-13
Last spring, for the first time ever, we decided to take a detailed look at seven major draft services to see which ones could really look into the future. We mapped the players they rated as first-rounders for '18 based on their earliest mock drafts last spring. We thought it offered a unique look at how the services see player futures, as well as lending a little accountability to Draft Twitter, so we decided to give it a try again this year. The results, we feel, are very interesting.
 
Before we go forward, it's interesting to see that several respected draft voices have hedged their bets this year. Last year, Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke provided its May 2017 look at April 2018. This year, Burke is at The Athletic, so SI turned things over to Albert Breer. But Breer doesn't do an actual mock; instead, he just predicts the top 10, then lists 10 others who might follow (for our purposes, we listed his top 10 in sequence, then his next 10 alphabetically).
Will Houston DT Ed Oliver be the No. 1 pick in 2019? At least one major draft service thinks so.
Meanwhile, over at The Athletic, Burke still hasn't produced a mock. Just coincidence? Or is the media starting to wilt under the 'forever' nature of the Internet? Then there's Pro Football Focus, historically a service willing to go off on its own and take a stand. This year, PFF also passed on a traditional mock draft and instead listed the top 36 players based on their raw score for 2017 (except South Carolina WO Deebo Samuel, whose 2016 score is used due to last season's ankle fracture). Not to be denied, we used the scores to compose a pseudo-mock (and included all 36).
 
Last year, though we didn't complete a rigorous 'scorecard' of success based on mock drafts, Pro Football Focus came out looking pretty good on its projections. Only PFF had Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield as the top pick more than a week before the draft, and only PFF had Arkansas OC Frank Ragnow as a top-32 guy a week before his selection (they were also the only service that had Ragnow in the first round in May 2017).
 
Though some services did better than others, it's important to take these projections with more than a few grains of salt. In fact, if last year is any indication, the top pick in the draft isn't even on this grid; Mayfield wasn't a first-rounder in the eyes of any of these services in the spring of '17. Also, based on last year, 13 players who weren't on any of the boards will go in the first round, while four players rated by all seven as a first-rounder will slide into the second round or worse.
 
Here are a few more observations.
  • A total of nine players are seen as first-rounders by all seven services. They are Georgia DC DeAndre Baker, Ohio State DE Nick Bosa, Mississippi WO A.J. Brown, Oregon QB Justin Herbert, Clemson DE Dexter Lawrence, Mississippi OT Greg Little, Missouri QB Drew Lock, Houston DT Ed Oliver and LSU DC Greedy Williams. That compares to last year's 12; four of them didn't make the first-round cut in '18, and one of them, Florida St. DC Tarvarus McFadden, went undrafted.
  • So which players are the surest thing? Bosa and Oliver each rate as top-ten picks by all seven services, with Oliver lasting no later than 7 (Draft Expert's Tony Pauline) and Bosa falling no farther than 8 (Pauline again). Three services nail Bosa as the top pick, while just one (ESPN's Todd McShay) sees Oliver as No. 1 overall, though three others like him as the second pick.
  • Among the nine players all seven services agreed on, the widest disparity was seen on Lock. Pro Football Focus slides him just inside its 'first round,' scoring him an 85 (tied with Ole Miss' Little) for the 28th slot. Meanwhile, Pauline has Lock as the top pick in the draft.
  • The service that went farthest out on a limb? That would be Pro Football Focus. Which player had the best score for 2017, according to the august analytics firm? It's Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith, who's not rated as a first-rounder by any of the other six services. He's one of 14 players that PFF judged as a top-32 player based on his '17 season that not one other service sees as a first-rounder. It will be interesting to see if PFF enjoys the same success in the '19 draft that it saw in '18.
 
Click here for our composite look at all seven services and the players they rated as first-rounders as of this spring/summer. In the meantime, here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said in the world of football this week.
 
No more procrastinating!: If you are just now getting notification that you're confirmed for next week's CBA Exam in Washington, D.C. (as several have), we understand if you've been a little slow to get with our exam prep program. At the same time, given that the test has a better-than-50-percent failure rate, there's no time to waste. We offer the most time-tested and enduring exam prep materials on the web, and if you'll forgive our being forward, you need them to pass this test. Our study guide ($150 plus tax) allows you to turn the voluminous CBA into a tidy set of need-to-know facts and procedures, while our practice exam 1 ($175 plus tax for non-ITL subscribers and $125 plus tax for ITL members) and practice exam 2 (this year only, $75 plus tax for non-ITL, $50 plus tax ITL) give you a chance to see the style of questions you'll get in D.C. while also allowing you to find out how much you really know before you land in Our Nation's Capital. Important: you must purchase Exam 1 before Exam 2, and you must register completely for each exam, then log into them separately. This is true even if you're an ITL member. And for those of you who have known for weeks that you are a 'go' for the exam, but still haven't so much as signed up for Exam 1, tsk tsk! Over half the people in the exam room a week from today will be back from last year or veteran agents who failed the continuing education exam in June. Do you really want to play those odds? Check out our exam prep materials page for a rundown of all we offer, and let us know if you have any questions.
 
Failed the CE exam?: It's one thing to have failed the NFLPA's 'continuing education' exam after years as a veteran agent. It's another to have to go to the trouble and expense of traveling to D.C. next week. But it's even worse not even knowing what you need to work on because the NFLPA is not able "at this time" to provide the questions you got wrong! But we have a solution. If you have your test, and can provide the questions for your exam with your answers for each, we can review it, tell you what you missed, and provide the correct answer with an explanation, hopefully in 48 hours or less. If you need it sooner, we can rush it for an additional (small) fee. We think it's the best way to prepare for Friday's exam without going into full panic mode. We're still working on pricing, but if you're interested, let us know. We're not out to get rich off the 30-odd people fighting for their certification next week. We just want to keep them in the game.
 
One more thing: If you're an ITL client, and you're taking the exam this week, let us know. We will provide the ITL Study Guide at a savings of about $100 over the regular price. It's just one more way we want to show our appreciation and loyalty to those who've been loyal to us. We're here for you. Just let us know what you need.
 
Rep Rumblings: With our focus on updating some of our annual features, we didn't have as much time for our signature feature. On Thursday, we had a short report on changes on the staff at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, a few notes to go with our FBS Head Coaches and Agents big board and more. We'll be back with plenty more next week. In the meantime, make sure you didn't miss anything this year by clicking here.
 
Profile Reports: This week, we featured Michigan and Miami (Ohio) on Monday, Michigan State on Tuesday, Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, and Minnesota and Ole Miss on Friday. Next week, we delve further into the SEC with Mississippi State and Missouri, then we follow up with Nebraska, Nevada and UNLV. Recruiting is in full swing. Click here to review all the prospects we've profile and reach out to their key people.
 
Succeed in Football: This week, we talked to yet another young and rising contract advisor, Shane Costa of Buffalo, NY-based Pillar Sports. Shane's blog post is especially helpful because he took the time to read our previous posts by Octagon's Casey Muir and HOF Player Representatives' Greg Linton, then came up with his own original points to add to theirs. Basically, Shane says to make information your friend, to prioritize communication, and, well, maybe it's best to just read it yourself.
 
FBS Head Coaches with Agents and NFL Head Coaches with Agents lists: We're pretty excited about our updates on both lists this year. On the NFL side, we batted 1.000 with the 32 head coaches for the first time ever in recording their agents and agencies. On the NCAA side, we have agents for more coaches than ever; more up-to-date info; and a list that encompasses all coaches, not just the ones for whom we know representation. Check them out! And if you can add to our list, please let us know.
 
Next week: The next seven days will not only determine whether hundreds of people will get to live their goal of becoming an NFL agent, but will decide if about 30 veteran agents will be able to move forward with their professions or see it ended abruptly. It's one of the most important weeks of the year in the game behind the game. With that in mind, we'll be pushing our agent exam prep materials extra-hard, hoping to reach as many contract advisor hopefuls as possible and give them the edge they need. We'll be using our Succeed in Football blog to identify, encourage, inspire, challenge and tutor test-takers on the business. Of course, that's not the only thing happening in the business, and we'll continue to move forward to 'coach up' everyone else in the business in our own unique way. We'll have Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and UNLV (at minimum) next week from our Profile Reports, and one more week of the ITL Rising Contract Advisor Newsletter before taking a break until October. We'll also continue hammering away at our next update of the ITL 2019 Contacts List for parents of the next draft class (seniors and juniors), and we'll inch closer to our next four-week cycle of The ITL Newsletter on the NFL Draft Process. We'll also have updates on the news you need in our Rep Rumblings, and we'll continue reviewing and renovating our pages and annual features, starting with the All-Star and Draft Grids Collection page, and we're running behind by almost three months (again) on our Agent Changes. We also might get to our Agents by Total Clients list for July, and we're long overdue for an Assistant Coaches with Agents update ( here's our last review from 2015; please email us to let us know who you represent so we can include it). And oh, by the way, rookies have already reported to Owings Mills, Md., for Ravens camp, and veterans report on Wednesday. It's here. The season is here. Or at least, training camp is. Whether you're already part of the business or just hoping to be, it's time to put your game face on. We can help.
 

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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