Aug. 30, 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: Aug. 24-30
Last Saturday, news broke that arguably the finest active NFL quarterback under 30  had called it quits after just 86 regular-season games. While people on social media chided Colts fans  for booing his retirement decisionjust a week before final cuts and  dogged a broadcaster for his take on Luck's decision, we thought it might be interesting to ask scouts about how Luck's decision might affect their process.
Admittedly, Luck was never a typical NFL prospect, and was a special case. He came lauded as a future No. 1 pick almost from the first day he set foot on campus at Stanford, and he is the son of not
Former Colts QB Andrew Luck didn't lose fans among scouts despite his surprising retirement announcement.
only a former NFL QB,  Oliver Luck, but a man who was a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship. The former member of the Cardinal even put off his departure for the NFL to finish his architecture degree at his prestigious alma mater. His legacy, according to this story, is that he was  possibly the top QB draft prospect of all time
Still, losing your team's leader about two weeks before the start of the season is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the other 52 players on the roster, so we asked scouts this question: going forward, would they take a longer, more critical look at players with less to lose due to academics, a comfortable upbringing, or both? In short, did Luck's retirement make them wonder if money and injury concerns might make drafting players who "want it" more important?
To our surprise, the answer was a resounding "no." While some scouts were sensitive to the unfortunate timing of his announcement, we didn't find any that faulted Luck for his decision. Some even applauded it. Here are some of their responses.
  • "I don't think this will really impact our thinking moving forward. I think this is a unique case and I think it could happen to anyone. I think any normal human that becomes really wealthy may consider what Andrew did; it's human nature. The medical issues were also unique. If you start over-analyzing things like that, you'll start missing on good players. Sure, the Luck situation is unfortunate in the long-term for the Colts, but you look at others like Tom Brady, for example, and you could argue he could've done the same thing. You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone that questioned Luck's competitiveness. I think it's a unique case and not a precedent. If you start downgrading really good players that are smart, you'll be doing yourself a disservice. I totally agree with (the unfortunate timing, however, but) I think that the shock around the league tells you just how unique this was." 
  • "I haven't thought (about downgrading players with strong academics). I want smart players. Stupid players do stupid things. Luck would still be playing had (former Colts GM Ryan) Grigson protected him with good lines and he didn't have long-term damage. Luck had to step down for his health. The issue here is that Luck could play but significantly put himself at risk for never being able to walk or be paralyzed a lot more likely than the normal player already has. Do you get mad at him for making best decision for his family?"
We have plenty of other responses from scouts we asked in this week's blog,  Succeed in Football. Most of the scouts we talked to, young and old, were sympathetic to Luck's cause, but also had points to make about the timing of his decision, why he's a special case, and what players in the '20 draft might present similar risks. In the meantime, here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said in the business of college and pro football this week.
It has to be today . . . right?: We expected results of the NFLPA exam last Friday. They never came. Then we practically held a vigil this week after we found out previous agent classes  (in 2010 and 2012 ) had gotten their results mid-week, but we heard nothing all week. Given that results are already a week later than they were last year, we're thinking results have to come out sometime today. Presuming they do, and you get your results (good news or bad news), please email us. We're interested to hear your thoughts on the exam and your plans on the coming year, whether or not you passed.
Speaking of the agent exam: We'll be launching the  ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter  in November. All newly certified agents will receive it, for a few weeks anyway. Once we get to Thanksgiving week, however, we'll cut back on our circulation list and ride only with our clients. Bottom line, if you get good news today,  make sure you're part of our team , at least by November. Whether you subscribe or not, you'll get our  Friday Wrap , but our Monday-through-Thursday series is one of our most popular features and has provided daily insights to new player reps for almost a decade. 
Hold that thought: For the last month, we've been letting people know that, despite the XFL, the WWE is still on the hunt for potential new wrestlers. That's still true, with one caveat: the quarterly tryout held in Orlando and previously scheduled for Sept. 19-21 has been postponed until December. The good news is that the jump from tryouts to new wrestler to the bright lights is a lot shorter as  the NXT (sort of the farm team for the WWE) is on the USA Network starting next month . Bottom line, if you have a client who might be a candidate for the square circle, we're still taking names. Email us here.
Congrats, Blake: We're happy to announce that longtime NFL scout  Blake Beddingfield  is the latest evaluator to move to the XFL; he'll join the Houston Roughnecks as the team begins building out its roster for kickoff next year. He's the latest former NFL evaluator to move to the new league, and like many others, he does so after first spending time with the short-lived Alliance of American Football. We also congratulate the new league on the number of former NFL types the league employs, from Senior V.P of Football Operations  Doug Whaley  to the various teams. Much like the AAF, whether or not the XFL succeeds long-term, teams will have a professional look and feel due to the many experienced people hired. 
College salary survey: If you're part of a college personnel department, we're working to figure out how we can help. One way that's been proposed is a robust salary survey that would measure pay scales across recruiting and personnel departments.  A couple weeks back , we asked for help on putting such a questionnaire together. We're still seeking input. If you're part of a college staff right now, on the personnel and/or recruiting side, please let us know if you can chip in your expertise on the effort.
Rep Rumblings: After some pretty lean weeks, we returned this week with four reports as we began to dip into the pre-'20 recruiting wars.  On Monday, we took a long look at one of the best prospects in the '20 (or '21) draft out of Iowa State, and dug deeper into his football bloodline. We also had an agent on the move to a new firm and more.  Tuesdaywe looked at a high-profile agent termination and which firm might be next agent up, plus we had an XFL update and more recruiting-related buzz.  Wednesday, we had scouting buzz, more odds and ends on the '20 agent recruiting process, and the latest agent with a new address, and  on Thursday, it was more of the same, with recruiting buzz on two top prospects and even more agent news. Make sure to check in on all the news and notes from this year by clicking  here .
We got it right: With NFL cuts already coming, we wanted to take a moment to brag on the  ITL Scouting Department  (of which, incidentally, Blake played a major role last year). In December, our scouts  compared Utah State OH Darwin Thompson to Tennessee's Dion Lewis and predicted he'd go in the sixth or seventh round . "Will be a third RB and move into a niche role as he learns and progresses," we wrote. Eight months later, Thompson looks to have won the third running back job for the Chiefs. Meanwhile, in November, we said Kansas St. OT  Dalton Risner " passes well on twists and stunts, "identifies blitzes" and is a "smart player that players within himself" and "understands his strengths and weaknesses." Ultimately, we predicted that he would go in the third or fourth round and "should start by Year 2." We were slightly off on his draft projection (he went 2/41 to Denver) but we were right about his ability to start, as he already looks like a plug-and-play part of the Broncos lineup. Finally, the Cardinals selected wide receivers in
Though nothing's official yet, new Cards WR KeeSean Johnson seems to have carved out a place in Kliff Kingsbury's new offense.
rounds 2 (Massachusetts' 
Andy Isabella ) and 4 (Iowa State's 
Hakeem Butler), but so far, Fresno State's  KeeSean Johnson  (6/174) has stolen the show. ESPN even said he  "may have had the best training camp of anyone on the Cardinals' roster."  We projected him as a fifth- or sixth-rounder who, despite lacking long speed, "has the makeup to be a productive slot WR." Don't forget: for $100 plus tax, you can go from hoping the player you're recruiting has NFL ability to knowing if he does or not, and after this weekend, players are making new film all the time. Get the most up-to-date look at a prospect's real potential by using our team. Click here to get started.  
Next week: NFL teams' rosters have to be cut to 53 by tomorrow afternoon, and already,  some recent first-rounders are getting released. With almost 1,200 players set to be released in the next 24 hours, it's one of the most tense weekends of the year, bringing good news to some and bad news to many more. At Inside the League, we'll be sifting through all the rosters this week to look at the decisions teams made and using them to finish off our  NFL Draft by the Numbers grid for the 2019 draft. One category we'll be finishing up is the number of players, by position, that made the 53 or practice squad from the most recent draft class. For example, 32 of 87 inside linebackers in the '18 class made NFL teams; believe it or not, that 36.7 percent rate of making teams led all other positions. Second was running backs (35.7 percent), but third was centers, another non-glory position, as 34 percent made teams. Check out all the totals for the last four draft classes  here. Of course, there's more going on than just the NFL. College football games will swamp TV screens as the NCAA gets one last weekend to claim as its own. We'll be doing our thing to focus on the players you should be focusing on as we present five more teams in our  Profile Report series: South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Cal, SMU and Southern Miss. As an added bonus, we'll have  ITL Scouting Report  on four of the five teams (South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Cal and SMU). Be sure to review all our team scouting reports, 25 in all, by clicking  here . We'll also keep up our work on the  Rep Rumblings ; we returned with four posts this week, and we'll try to do the same this week. With recruiting ramping up, and college play under way, there's plenty percolating and we'll try to track it. We'll also have a new post from our weekly blog for aspiring football professionals,   Succeed in Football , and we'll be working on a couple other projects that aren't quite ready for primetime yet. As always, remember that the ITL Scouting Department is on 24-hour call whenever you need a professional look at a college prospect, and if you're someone interested in learning more about the pre-NFL Draft process,  for less than $15, you can learn everything there is to know.  Anything else you need to know? Let us know. Ready to join our team? Do that  here .


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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