Sept. 30, 2016

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: Sept. 24-30
For the last two years, we've taken a look at the league and which teams did best on draft day. Our metric: we've counted the number of active NFL players (53 and practice squad) drafted by each respective NFL team to get a good baseline of which teams are best in evaluation, and we found a general correlation between the biggest producers of NFL talent and the most successful teams, year in and year out. In 2014, the 49ers, coming off a Super Bowl appearance and the continued success during the Harbaugh years, were the leaders with 59 draftees still active across the league, followed by the Packers (54), Steelers (53), Ravens (51) and a three-way tie between the Texans, Patriots and Seahawks at 49. Of that group, only the 49ers and Texans failed to make the playoffs in 2014-15, and two teams from the group (New England and Seattle) appeared in the Super Bowl. In 2015, our count produced essentially the same top five with the Niners at the top again (59) but the Packers closing the gap at 57 with the Steelers (52) and the Ravens, Bengals and Eagles rounding out the top five with a tie at 50. The other teams in the top third were the Vikings and Seahawks (tied at 49) and the Chiefs (48). Of that group, only San Francisco, Baltimore and Philadelphia skipped the playoffs. So who makes the postseason this year? Our numbers indicate good things are ahead for the Ravens, who have overtaken the Niners with 55 total draftees still around the league. Next in order are the Bengals (53) and Packers (51), followed by a surprise entrant, the Cowboys (49), followed by a five-way tie between the Vikings, Raiders, Steelers, Seahawks and Titans. If these totals are any indication, there could be surprises this season from some unexpected teams. For what it's worth, the bottom five are the Bears and Redskins (34), followed by the Falcons and Colts (31) and the Giants, who are all alone in the basement with 28. We'll have to see if draft-day results are a good indicator of future success as we proceed through the season. Here's what else we saw, heard, read and said in the business of football.
The 2017 Contacts List: No, it's not too late to get started on recruiting, but you might want a helping hand. We've got one. We're still supplying top combine prep firms, agencies and financial advisors with the only comprehensive listing of confirmed phone numbers and other contact methods for the parents of the best prospects in the '17 NFL draft. We've also got email addresses, social media handles, and everything else you need, with dozens of players from NFL Draft Bible's Top 150 list on ours, too. It's a compilation of our 2017 Profile Reports in one easy-to-sort file, with way more updated and practical info than we could provide in our Profile Report format. Ready for it? We can have it in your in-box in seconds. ( Just complete this first).
Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter: After several stops and starts, we're ready to roll one of our most popular series out of the showroom for the 2017 draft season. Though the NFLPA still hasn't yet posted the names of the new agent class, we'll begin 'coaching up' the nearly a hundred agents who worked with ITL during exam prep (our passage rate of 70 percent was about 25 percent higher than the agent class at large). This week, we'll touch on the all-star games, the 1.5 percent agent rate and how to deal with it, and some new features we think first-year agents will find especially helpful. We're excited and ready to go, and we hope the members of the new agent class are, too. Here we go!
The ITL Scouting Department: This week, we put our fifth ex-NFL scout with an agency, where he'll provide consulting and evaluation muscle for the '17 draft process. We could have our sixth today, and we've got several more on deck, ready to go to work. We're super-excited about this new program and the potential it provides to agencies in a business that's more competitive than ever. Here's an unsolicited text from one of our first clients: "Just a heads up that things are going well w (our scout) so far. Just got his first set of notes in today and it was pretty impressive and very helpful." What's more, we're working on an exciting extension of the program with some of Dan Hatman's brightest students at The Scouting Academy, the service that's becoming the recognized pipeline to NFL scouting jobs. More news ahead soon. Make sure you're part of the ITL family so you can take advantage the moment we get it locked in and rolling. And for more information on getting your own scout for the '17 draft season, email us.
The ITL 2-minute Drill: At Inside the League, we're dedicated to making the business of football, and more specifically the draft process, more transparent and easier to understand. To that end, we've launched a new daily audio segment on the Bumpers Media platform that will illuminate the pre-draft process for parents of prospects. We launched the series Thursday with a brief intro and overview of what's to come, and today, we reviewed the reasons why a talented player may not be getting draft buzz and might be a 'sleeper.' Next week, we'll talk about the 'draft schedule,' going from October through the end of April, with all the signposts along the way, as well as who scouts are and how they work. We'll also start the discussion of trainers and what they bring to the table. We're excited about our new series and hope it helps inform the people who are skittish about receiving our newsletter on the draft process. We see Bumpers as an easy platform to use which doesn't require any commitments like email addresses or phone numbers, and we hope it helps parents understand the roles of agents, trainers and scouts, respectively.
The Inside the Football Business Podcast: Speaking of Justin, he joined ITL's Neil Stratton Friday for the weekly podcast dedicated to the business of football. This week, the duo broke down the big announcement Monday that the AFCA and NFL had struck an accord allowing scouts greater access to underclassmen. The new policy launches in February, and will allow schools to designate five players (more with the NFL's OK) for extra scrutiny from NFL teams, even allowing those five to work out at the team's pro day while still less than three years out from his high school class's graduation. There are still questions, however. For example, will the names of the five designees become public? When (exactly) will the names be provided? And perhaps most importantly, what about the teams that limit scouts' access to players, even seniors? Will they now be mandated to provide access? And if so, how? It will be interesting to see how the policy is implemented. Another interesting development this week was Cedric Saunders' addition to Goal Line Sports. Saunders, formerly a top executive with the Lions, brings 10 years of front office experience to the South Florida-based agency, and he's expected to help CEO Brian Levy attract more talent both in the player and coaching spaces. Could this be a trend? Will more NFL scouts and executives cross the border into the representation space? Justin and Neil discuss. They also gave their takes on Josh Gordon's return to rehab, Randy Gregory's extended suspension and the length of Les Miles' exile from coaching. It all makes for a fast-moving half-hour, and you can check it out here. To hear all of the ITFB podcasts for the past year, click here.    
Rep Rumblings: As we tried to tie up loose ends on our Profile Reports for 2017, our Rep Rumblings fell by the wayside a bit. Still, it doesn't mean we were shut out. On Wednesday, we had buzz on where one of the hottest prospects (potentially) in the '17 draft, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, could land, agent-wise, plus notes from Baton Rouge on the LSU front. On Thursday, we detailed the move of former Lions exec Cedric Saunders to Bay Harbor Islands, Fla.-based Goal Line Sports and what it means, plus we had more potential fallout from the move of Trace Armstrong from CAA to Athletes First. Of course, there's plenty more, too. Check out this week's reports, plus every RR since the start of 2016, here.
Profile Reports: This week, we went down the home stretch on a series that's been six months in the making. We closed up our series on the top prospects in FBS football and ways to communicate with and contact their parents with reports on Wake Forest and Washington (Monday), Washington State and West Virginia (Tuesday), Western Kentucky (Wednesday) and Western Michigan Thursday. Finally, today, we rolled out our final two schools, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Next week, our Know Your Scouts series moves front and center as we educate our readers on the men who gather info and help make decisions on what's ahead in April.
Succeed in Football: This week in our blog, we kicked off the week on Tuesday with our first thoughts on the new AFCA-NFL agreement expanding scouting coverage for underclassmen. Could it mean more jobs for NFL scouts? Could it mean more opportunities for smaller agencies? Could it mean more acclaim for players that might not deserve it? These are the questions we'll be trying to answer when the program debuts in February. On Wednesday, we began a two-part interview with Vijay Natarajan and Jason Fitzgerald, co-authors of Crunching Numbers: An Inside Look at the Salary Cap and Negotiating Player Contracts. Natarajan, a veteran of the football business, and Fitzgerald, founder of, gave their thoughts on how the book came about and what they hope the book accomplishes on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, they talked about how hard it is to understand the cap, and whether they think the people who follow the game and who cover the game really understand what it means. It's a great read, and an exciting way for people to understand a subject that's complicated but central to the game. Check it out here. For a look at every blog post we've ever done at SIF, click here.
Next week: As we move to the fourth quarter of 2016, we've got several new features to unveil. We'll get our clients acquainted with the 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills and Broncos in our Know Your Scouts series. We've got new content for the 2016 agent class in our Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter, and Monday we'll start providing tips and pointers to the newest 'recruits' in the business. We'll also help get the parents of NFL prospects ready to help their sons in our new daily series, the ITL Two-Minute Drill, on Bumpers Media. In our free blog for aspiring members of the football business, Succeed in Football, we'll have insights from Cedric Saunders, the newest employee at Goal Line Football and formerly the Senior Vice President of Football Operations for the Lions. What will he do at Goal Line? Does he still harbor NFL dreams? We'll find out next week. We'll also have our ears to the ground for all the latest recruiting buzz and moves among the power brokers, and we'll have everything we find in our Rep Rumblings. We'll also be back with more news, opinion and insights on the biz in our Inside the Football Business Podcast, and we'll keep right on matching former NFL scouts with contract advisors and firms that need a helping hand in our ITL Scouting Department.  Of course, that's not the only tool we have for making agents' jobs easier. We've also got bona fide contact info on bona fide NFL prospects in our 2017 Contacts List ( available here). This is no time to be on the sidelines. Let's get downhill fast.

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
Inside the League

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